Lessons from premature design

Lessons from Premature Abstractions Illustrated. I’ve run afoul of all three of these:

Make sure you have someone on the team or externally available that will keep the critical, outside look at the project, ready to scream and shout if things turn bad.

Don’t let your technical solution influence your design decisions. It’s the tool that needs to fit the job, not the other way round.

Don’t build abstractions as long as you have no proven idea on how the levels below that abstraction will look like.

I could have used an outside, trusted voice to gently reel me in if when I went off into the unproductive weeds. Someone to ask “how will this help the team in two weeks?”, someone to point out ideas that might be great but have only achieved greatness in my head. A person who is asking questions because they want me to succeed, not because they’re trying to take me down a notch.

I have rushed into implementing the first idea in my head. Sometimes I’ve convinced myself that my first idea is the best, despite knowing I need to review it from more angles. I’ve jumped into projects with a shiny new tool and a bunch of optimism, only to cut myself on a sharp edge later on.

I’ve built systems that look fine on their own, but don’t fit into the puzzle around them. I’ve isolated myself building up that system, afraid to figure out how to fit my system into the puzzle in a useful way. I’ve used mocks and stubs to unintentionally isolate myself from the real system.

Basically, these are all really good ways to paint yourself into a corner. It seems like being in a corner with a shiny new system/tool/abstraction would be nice. Unfortunately, my experience is that once you have to make sense of that abstraction in a team, things get dicey.

It’s dangerous to run a software project on your own! Take a friend.

Adam Keys @therealadam