Complexity Creep

I’ve been silent in this blog for a while now not only because I’ve been busy with family, work, and organizing IASA encounters, but also because I’m reluctant to rehash anything that’s been written before. Fortunately, I think I’ve come across something worth the pixels its written on. While working on software design over the years, I’ve noticed a common pattern, no matter how unrelated design tasks are: every design starts out really simple and elegant, but at some point can grow into a warted perturbed perversion of the original idea. In some cases, in response to a new requirement or complication, a new solution latches on to the side of the core design, like a barnacle on the keel of a ship. Other times, the whole design can be turned belly-up, like the Poseidon after a storm. What’s fascinating to me is how the great upheavals in design are often caused by the smallest additional requirements.

Everyone has heard of the concept of “scope creep”, when the requirements seem to grow faster than you can code. I want to write about what I’d like to call “complexity creep”, those moments when a tiny little requirement can mean a whole lot of extra work for the development team, or even turn your basic design concepts on their head.

Since this will be the beginning of a series of posts, inspired by some of the most agonizing moments from my ongoing work as a software architect, I won’t post any examples here. Look instead for my next posts, coming soon, on two “patterns” (oh no! YADSDPC – Yet Another Damned Software Design Pattern Catalog*) of complexity creep: “Aspect Infiltration” and “Data Scavenger”. If you come across any moments of your own, please let me know!

* Note that I use the term “pattern” here loosely, as in a group of unrelated issues with recongnizable commonalities. I’m not really planning on documenting these like software design patterns.


One Response to Complexity Creep

  1. […] out yUML for the images here) Harness schedules Groups and executes JobsAs with pretty much any complexity creep story, this one starts out with a pretty simple and elegant design. You basically had an execution […]

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