solve the problems you have

Let me take you along for some kind of thought experiment. What if you completely ignore any kind of architectural - or system design decision making in your next project and only do one thing: focus on the next problem you actually have, and solve that. So instead of planning how your piece of software should be looking like when you're done, just let the shape and architecture of the final thing be up to chance.

This of course sounds slightly radical. Normally, we're trying to predict how the future will look like, and make choices regarding architecture, the name and the interactions between our components ahead of time. But we get that wrong just so often, I'm wondering what would be happening if we just try to stop doing this crystal-ball magic altogether.

Just imagine.

You're starting a project, and for every decision along the way, you just choose the easiest, the lowest hanging fruit, as a solution. Need a HTTP Server? Google what the most common HTTP Server for the stack you're using is and roll with it. Need persistence? Start with files or a common database. Need more functionality? Add it. Let the path you're taking be dictated by where the lowest fruits are hanging.

This of course sounds dangerously reckless. But is it? If I'd lay the situations in my career where I had to work with a mess that was caused by proactively trying to address problems you didn't have in the first place next to situations where someone forgot to solve a real problem they're having – the former one would have a super strong lead. I've worked with Microservices in Organisations that would struggle to work on a single project, I've dealt with the fanciest NoSQL-Databases in situations where Postgres wouldn't have reached more than 1% CPU utilisation. Yet in both cases, the cost of introducing either of those solutions was measurably really higher than just doing the more intuitive thing (RDBMS and Monolith, to be specific).

I've got a theory that explains both why Ruby on Rails is not popular and why we don't focus on the real, as opposed to the imagined, problems. We'd realise that we're mostly dealing with solved problems, and that there's only a very limited level of excitement building a CRUD-Service in 2024. But since we enjoy reinventing the wheel, and since overcomplicating is a very direct path to endless job security, we do just that - building things that are more complicated than they have to be, instead of just solving whatever problem is at hand.

Of course, there's situations where you still have to scale and didn't prepare for it – great! Solve that problem once it's a problem you're actually having, and not one that you just hallucinated. Because then it's really just a problem that you actually have, which is the only valid reason for starting to solving something.

Real problems. Boring solutions.