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  • Writer's pictureShai Yallin

Your Code as a Lava Lamp

In the fast-paced world of software development, change is the only constant. User needs evolve, new technologies emerge, and market conditions shift. In this environment, rigid, inflexible code is a liability. It's like a brittle sculpture that shatters under pressure. To build software that thrives in the face of change, we need to embrace a different mindset. We need to think of code not as a solid, immutable structure, but as a fluid, adaptable entity. 

In other words, we need to think of code as a lava lamp.

The Perils of Rigid Thinking

Too often, we approach software development with a rigid mindset. We try to predict every possible scenario, to design the perfect architecture that will stand the test of time. We write detailed specifications and create elaborate plans, trying to nail down every aspect of the system before a single line of code is written.

But this approach is fundamentally flawed. It assumes that we can predict the future, that we can anticipate every need and requirement. In reality, the world is far too complex and unpredictable for such rigid, linear planning. When we build software based on these rigid assumptions, we create systems that are brittle and inflexible. They work fine as long as everything goes according to plan, but as reality deviates from our predictions, we find that changing our systems in order to accommodate the new reality becomes harder and harder.

The Viscous Nature of Reality

The truth is, reality is much more like a lava lamp than a solid structure. It's constantly in flux, with needs and circumstances morphing and shifting over time. Users' needs evolve as they interact with our software and discover new ways to use it. Business requirements change as the market shifts and new opportunities arise. And technology advances at a rapid pace, opening up new possibilities and rendering old approaches obsolete.

In this fluid environment, rigid software design is quickly left behind. It becomes a hindrance rather than a help, a relic of a past prediction of reality that no longer holds true.

Embracing a Fluid Mindset

To build software that thrives in this ever-changing world, we need to embrace a fluid mindset. We need to design our code to be fluid and adaptable, able to change shape and flow with the needs of the moment. This means letting go of the idea of perfect, upfront design. Instead, we need to build systems that are designed to evolve. We need simple designs where the boundaries between components are well-defined but malleable, where a class can easily split into two well-defined pieces, and two classes can easily merge into one. We need automated tests that give us the confidence to refactor and adapt our code without fear of breaking things. And we need continuous delivery practices that allow us to get changes into users' hands quickly and safely.

But more than any specific practice, the fluid mindset is about cultivating a certain attitude towards change. It's about being open to new possibilities, about being willing to question our assumptions and adapt our approach as we learn. Change is slow but constant, with each change affecting the flow of the entire medium.

Building for an Unpredictable Future

We can no longer afford to build rigid, inflexible systems that resist change. In a world that's constantly evolving, that's a recipe for obsolescence. Instead, we must learn to embrace the fluid, dynamic nature of reality. We must learn to build software that is as adaptable, as responsive, and as ever-changing as the world it serves.

This is the essence of the fluid mindset. It's about recognizing that change is not something to be feared or resisted, but something to be embraced and harnessed. It's about creating systems that are not just tolerant of constant, fluent change, but that actively thrive on it.

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