Thursday, July 30, 2009

Adding New Features: Not as Easy as you Might Think

There's a great post by Brent Simmons (he's had a few good ones lately actually) about the thought process and decision making that goes into adding even what, to the average user, would appear to be a simple feature:
I recently added a pretty easy feature to NetNewsWire ó a Send to Instapaper command. (It will appear in 3.2.)

It really is just a quick http call to the Instapaper server to add a URL to the Read Later list.

Piece of cake.

But of course itís not as simple as just writing a quick script. Itís tempting to think that adding a feature like this is just about adding the functionality ó but thereís a bunch more to it than that...

Itís not enough just to write the basic functionality and add a menu item that runs it. Even a feature as simple as this one requires some up-front thinking, some design.
Anatomy of a feature

There's a good follow-up post by Daniel over at Red Sweater too.

Funny Brent should post about this very subject. I just finished going through something similar for MacGourmet 3. I'm revamping the ingredients list in the editor to be an outline instead of the existing table. Sounds simple, right? Wow, it wasn't. Sometimes adding or redoing a feature, even when planned, has unexpected consequences that must be dealt with, and hours later, when you've finished, you realize it turned out to be a much bigger change than expected, even though you thought you knew exactly what needed to be done.

Brent's post gives a good example of just how much thought must go into even what appears to be, on the surface, an easy change. I was actually thinking of doing a similar post. I don't have to now, read Brent's post instead, he pretty much hits the nail on the head...


At December 02, 2009 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a ipod touch user. I was around computers when my dad would pay me to type in the script to run a bouncing box on the screen. And if I made a typo....well, you understand. Which I think is why I never got into software development. I just wanted to say thanks for your work. Without you guys, we wouldn't have some of these things that do make life a little easier. And I'll remember this post the next time i write that review. On a side not I'm going to give MacGourmet a try..So I just might be soon adding a few pennies to the pot.

At April 16, 2010 10:22 AM, Anonymous Gusti Dana said...

I like your post...and you're right....adding new features was not as easy as we think,but...this will make us keep the good work in the end.


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