Oh, the complexities you’ll know

Carried complexity is the bane of your application. When you add something to software, you incur the cost of doing the work plus the risk that the change will break something in already deployed versions of the software. But you also possibly incur the cost of understanding that addition later, probably in the context of other additions, and then trying to figure out what’s broken, slow, or needs to change to add this other new thing.

Software developers are most adept at identifying and resisting complexity when it comes from the product or business guys. Adding this feature will take a few days, fixing this bug will take a few hours, generating that report will take a week. This change might sound good for getting that new customer, but the way it interacts with the other features will confuse lots of people in the long run.

You’ve probably thought or said all of these things in the past.

It’s important to realize we put it upon ourselves too. Are there two ways of solving the same problem in your project, team, or organization? Are you migrating from one framework/queue/architecture to another? Those are complexities that you are carrying around in your head. They aren’t inherently bad, but they are costly, and it is important to weigh the pros and cons before you commit to them. When you choose to incur complexity, make sure it’s buying you something and not just shuffling the bits around a little bit.