The Argument for Simplicity in Software Development [Video]

by Adam Calica
January 7, 2016

By David Hennessy

GitHub is the world’s largest software host, serving more than 11 million users with 29 million repositories. At New Relic’s recent FutureStack15 conference in San Francisco, Sam Lambert, the company’s director of systems, gave a presentation titled “Building New on Top of Old: The Argument for Simplicity” before a large audience of developers, IT experts, and technologists.

Sam explained that the software industry tends to gravitate toward complexity, with new solutions to old problems appearing daily. He told the crowd that the GitHub team tends to shy away from unnecessary complexity in the systems that it builds. He shared the three core tenants of GitHub’s systems philosophy, which all revolve around simplicity: “Above all else, GitHub is a UNIX shop. We create programs and tools that follow the basic principles of UNIX: simplicity, modularity, and composability,” he said. “We also believe that it’s easier to add complexity than it is to remove it…. [and] we’re excited by new tools, but we never use them just to use them. We experiment, but we will always prefer what is proven over what is new.” GitHub, Sam explained, is able to move fast without compromising stability precisely because it is built on top of stable, proven systems and services.

To hear Sam’s presentation in full, including his advice on how this philosophy of simplicity can help with software development and problem solving, watch the full FutureStack15 presentation below:

[video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXkJh0629RE&feature=youtu.be autoplay:0]

About the Author

David Hennessy is New Relic’s blog editor. Prior to joining the company, he served as senior editor for AllBusiness.com. Way back in the days of paper books, David held positions at HarperCollins Publishers and Little, Brown & Company. View posts by David Hennessy.

 

Photo: © Andrew Weeks Photography

 

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