Weekly Dev Tips

Pain Driven Development

Episode Summary

Many of you have probably heard of various "DD" approaches to writing software. There's TDD, or Test Driven Development. There's BDD, for Behavior Driven Development. In this tip, I want to introduce you to another one, PDD: Pain Driven Development.

Episode Notes

Pain Driven Development

Pain Driven Development, or PDD, is the practice of writing software in such a way that you only "fix" problems when they are causing pain, rather than trying to preempt every possible issue.

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Show Notes / Transcript

Many of you have probably heard of various "DD" approaches to writing software. There's TDD, or Test Driven Development. There's BDD, for Behavior Driven Development. In this tip, I want to introduce you to another one, PDD: Pain Driven Development.

Pain Driven Development

Software development is full of principles, patterns, and best practices. It can be tempting, especially when you've recently learned about a new way of doing things, to want to apply it widely to maximize its benefits. Some time ago, when XML was a new thing, for instance, Microsoft went all-in with it. They decided to "XML ALL THE THINGS" and in some places, this was great. And in many cases, not so much. In my own experience, I find this is often the case when I'm learning a new design pattern or trying to fully understand a particular principle. It can be easy, when you're constantly on the lookout for applications of recent knowledge, to find excuses to apply these techniques.

One particular set of principles that many object-oriented programmers know are the SOLID principles. I have a course on SOLID on Pluralsight that I encourage you to check out, which covers these principles in depth. One thing that is worth remembering, though, is that you shouldn't, and honestly can't, apply all of the principles to every aspect of your software. You need to pick your battles. You need to actually ship working software. You don't know when you begin a project where extension is going to be necessary, so you can't anticipate every way in which you might support the Open-Closed Principle for every class or method in your program. Build and ship working software, and let feedback and new requirements guide you when it comes to applying iterative design improvements to your code. When you're back in the same method for the Nth time in the last month because yet another requirement has changed how it's supposed to work, that's when you should recognize the pain your current design is causing you. That's where Pain Driven Development comes into play. Refactor your code so that the pain you're experiencing as a result of its current design is abated.

Extreme Programming introduced the concept of YAGNI, or You Ain't Gonna Need It. PDD is closely aligned with this concept. YAGNI cautions against building things you might need in the application, and instead favors building only what's required today (but in a responsible manner, so you can revise the design in the future). PDD offers similar guidance, but from a different perspective. The message with PDD is, follow YAGNI and build only what is required today, but recognize when you'll "need it" by the pain the current design causes you as you try to work around/with it.

Well-designed code is enjoyable to work with. If you frequently find yourself frustrated with the code you're working with, see if you can identity the source(s) of the pain, and apply refactoring techniques to alleviate the problem.

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