Andrew Pollack's Blog

Technology, Family, Entertainment, Politics, and Random Noise

Time to repeat some of the best advice on programming I've ever read.

By Andrew Pollack on 06/06/2006 at 10:03 PM EDT

A couple of years ago I read something Richard Schwartz wrote about "Second System Syndrome". I can't seem to find the original now, but here's a link to the topic on wikipedia. Since reading it, an understanding of this topic has been directly responsible for saving my backside about a dozen times.

The general idea, is that you build something that by chance, luck, and a little skill turns out really useful. As a reward, you get the chance to do it again. You resolve that this time you're really going to do it right. What you end up with, if you're not careful, is something so grossly overengineered and poorly suited to the actual problem that you design the very utility and flexibility right out.

Think of all the "Second System" projects you can recall that never even get finished. The thing to remember when you go to do your rebuild, is that you're not solving the same problem again. You're solving a similar problem in an entirely new context. Go back to the basics that made the original successful. You need start with the reason you're building it. From the design goals, plan your solution. Borrow from the original but don't copy it. Trust that you've learned something along the way and those original ideas will end up rolled into the new solution along with the fresh thinking and economy of design that made your first work succeed.

I plan to revisit this topic from time to time, because it has become so key to how I work.

Today I moved into test with one of the largest "second system" rebuilds I've ever done. It has nothing to do with Second Signal, but rather is traditional Notes work related to design I've worked on for years and years. As I said, its in "alpha" test on my own servers tonight, and by Friday I will have it in the hands of my client. The work represents something like two months of revenue, and if I hadn't really pounded my head and forced myself to avoid making those "second system" mistakes I'd really be underwater right now.


There are  - loading -  comments....



Other Recent Stories...

  1. 07/13/2018Who is HCL and why is it a good thing that they are now the ones behind Notes and Domino?We need to address some biases here. IBM has made a deal under which the Notes & Domino software and intellectual property is now being developed and maintained by HCL America. HCL America is part of the very large "HCL Technologies" company that has grown from its roots in India to become an 8 Billion Dollar company with a global presence in the IT Industry. You could be excused for initially believing, as many people do when they hear this, that "they've outsourced the code to India where they'll milk it ...... 
  2. 03/21/2018Domino Apps on IOS is a Game Changer. Quit holding back.BOOM. This will be as important for the platform as Traveler. If your company has ditched Notes and Domino, I feel sorry for you. For companies that do use Notes/Domino this is a game changer and Apple should be paying attention. Here's why: There are hundreds of little Notes client applications you'd never spend the time and money to build and deploy for your internal user base on IOS that we use Notes for all the time (those of us still using it). Now, those are suddenly ALL available on the iPad. ...... 
  3. 02/15/2018Andrew’s Proposed Gun LawsThese are my current thoughts on gun laws that would radically change the culture and safety of gun ownership in the United States without removing the rights of gun owners or compromising their privacy rights. * Please feel free to link to, or just copy, these ideas. It would be wonderful to see them spread widely and eventually become the basis for something to rally around and become legislation. Update: 3/3/2018 I added #7, increasing the age to purchase. Update: 4/27/2018 Please be aware that I am not ...... 
  4. 05/05/2016Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism? 
  5. 04/20/2016Want to be whitelisted? Here are some sensible rules for web site advertising 
  6. 12/30/2015Fantastic new series on Syfy called “The Expanse” – for people who love traditional science fiction 
  7. 10/20/2015My suggestion is to stay away from PayAnywhere(dot)com  
  8. 08/07/2015Here is one for you VMWARE gurus - particularly if you run ESXi without fancy drive arrays 
  9. 08/06/2015The Killer of Orphans (Orphan Documents) 
  10. 06/02/2015Homeopathic Marketing: Traveler on my Android is now calling itself VERSE. Allow me to translate that for the IBM Notes community... 
Click here for more articles.....


pen icon Comment Entry
Subject
Your Name
Homepage
*Your Email
* Your email address is required, but not displayed.
 
Your thoughts....
 
Remember Me  

Please wait while your document is saved.