Keeping it Simple

I am always fascinated with good writing. Maybe because it has many things in common with good software. A good user interface just flows. It is invisible. You get the task done without confusion. It might even be fun. Good writing has that quality as well. It captures the reader’s attention. Writing becomes invisible and the story becomes the reality. Both good writing and good software flows with the user. They provide a sense of accomplishment.

When I was in school, it took me all weekend to write a paper with couple of pages. Some people could write that in an hour. It was tough for me. Especially since English was my second language. But here is the interesting part. I always liked writing. It was tough but I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed every minute of it. My ideas were probably not that great. My writing was pretty bad. But it felt great to put things on paper.

In software, you start with a zero byte file. It is like an empty sheet of paper. Then you put things on it. Sometimes work on it for months. You get ideas and put them there. Instead of words, you code the ideas. Suddenly those ideas become reality for the user. If you are lucky, millions of people might even run the code you created.

A good writing is usually simple. Short sentences are good. Being to the point is good. Same applies to software. It is very hard work to make a user interfaces simple. The first draft you create is usually a very complex peace of mess. Then you work on it and refine it. You Keep it Simple, Stupid. KISS principle applies both to writing and software.

[Some thoughts I have had while reading a book called "On Writing Well" by Williaam Zinsser.]

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