As a developer working individually or in small development companies, there’s always the thought of what the end product of your code should be. There is a result in mind and a goal to be achieved. Therefore, oftentimes do not realize you are getting sucked into a project until it has become a complicated mess. This is over-engineering.
Doing more than is required of you by the client or a given instruction. When you are tempted to write a code that is devoid of flaws, stands the test of time, and cannot be changed, you are probably on the path of over-engineering it. Why do people over-engineer? What are the consequences of over-engineering? More importantly, how can over-engineering be avoided?
Why, Even the Smartest Developers Over-engineer?
Complexity is a trait that many programmers understand all too well. When you are given a problem, you want to think outside the box. You also want to provide solutions that have either never been thought of before or in a way that stands out. Over-engineering may be necessary when you are writing code for mission-critical systems or innovative luxury products with extra features and functionalities that will give it an edge over other products.
However, programmers often over-engineer even the simplest of tasks. One reason they do this is that cracking that challenging code is fun and thrilling. So, in your excitement, you have forgotten that the end-user simply just needs a tool they can relate with.
As a brilliant programmer, you might have started to write a code for something like a coffee maker, for instance. You have made the coffee maker alright but you also want to add a little extra to it. So, why not make it dispense creamer and milk too? Oh yes, it should probably be able to stir and add sugar as well, after all not everyone likes their coffee black. As you expand the simple project, you are overcomplicating it by adding features that might never be used as well as increasing development cost for every line of code you add that will also require more test cases.
Do not Fall into the Temptation of Over-engineering
You may be lured by how fancy you want your program to look and forget you are building it for people who may or may not appreciate the number of hours you put into developing it. So, why not keep it simple instead and invest in quality? To avoid the overkill most programmers are guilty of, use the KISS principle. KISS stands for Keep it stupid simple. Simplicity comes with experience. This means that if you can create a program that is simple and easy to use, then you have attained a certain level of expertise as a programmer. Do not overgeneralize. Your code should be simple to use, scalable, and understand by other programmers who want to build on it.
At every stage of your project, you need to keep asking yourself if what you are doing is relevant to the program you are trying to build. This will not only keep you on the path of achieving your goal but also helps you to avoid complexity. If ‘you ain’t gonna need it (YAGNI), then steer clear of it. Do not expand the code more than the client’s request.
If you are still in doubt as to whether you are over-engineering or not, seek another engineer’s point of view. Locking yourself in a room and working solo might seem your style but peer-reviewing a code does not make you less of a genius. Writing down the code with a pen and paper might also help you put things into perspective
You are probably familiar with the classic case of an over-engineered ‘hello world’. Over-engineering wastes time, money, and a whole lot of other resources. You might be looking for perfection in your program but the beauty of any project is the ability to make it better with time and trend.
Author: SVCIT Editorial
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