Software Development Philosophy

A proven methodology for lean software development.


More of the Unix philosophy was implied not by what these elders said but by what they did and the example Unix itself set. Looking at the whole, we can abstract the following ideas:

  • Rule of Modularity: Write simple parts connected by clean interfaces.
  • Rule of Clarity: Clarity is better than cleverness.
  • Rule of Composition: Design programs to be connected to other programs.
  • Rule of Separation: Separate policy from mechanism; separate interfaces from engines.
  • Rule of Simplicity: Design for simplicity; add complexity only where you must.
  • Rule of Parsimony: Write a big program only when it is clear by demonstration that nothing else will do.
  • Rule of Transparency: Design for visibility to make inspection and debugging easier.
  • Rule of Robustness: Robustness is the child of transparency and simplicity.
  • Rule of Representation: Fold knowledge into data so program logic can be stupid and robust.
  • Rule of Least Surprise: In interface design, always do the least surprising thing.
  • Rule of Silence: When a program has nothing surprising to say, it should say nothing.
  • Rule of Repair: When you must fail, fail noisily and as soon as possible.
  • Rule of Economy: Programmer time is expensive; conserve it in preference to machine time.
  • Rule of Generation: Avoid hand-hacking; write programs to write programs when you can.
  • Rule of Optimization: Prototype before polishing. Get it working before you optimize it.
  • Rule of Diversity: Distrust all claims for “one true way”.
  • Rule of Extensibility: Design for the future, because it will be here sooner than you think.

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Lean development can be summarized by seven principles:

  • Eliminate waste
  • Amplify learning
  • Decide as late as possible
  • Deliver as fast as possible
  • Empower the team
  • Build integrity in
  • See the whole

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The Done Manifesto brings in a slightly different philosophy of moving on without much careful consideration.

  • There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
  • Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
  • There is no editing stage.
  • Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.
  • Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
  • The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
  • Once you’re done you can throw it away.
  • Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.
  • People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
  • Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
  • Destruction is a variant of done.
  • If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
  • Done is the engine of more.

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