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Measuring and cutting

I learned “measure twice, cut once” while working with my dad. He probably learned it from his dad and him from his dad. It’s good advice, but in an issue of Frontend at Scale Maxi Ferreira suggests that it might not apply neatly to software engineering:

[S]oftware is different, and trying to apply this piece of advice to planning, designing, and writing applications can sometimes do more harm than good.

Measuring twice (i.e. considering all possible options and coming up with the perfect design or architecture before writing a single line of code) is not the most effective way to build software. That’s the waterfall approach, and we know it doesn’t work.

Instead, we can use the flexibility of software to our advantage and flip the woodworker’s advice on its head. We can measure once, decide quickly, and cut as many times as needed.

When your materials are (close to) free, you don’t need to spend the extra time up front getting all of measurements perfect. Instead, get ship something and spend that time iterating.

He expands on the idea more in the article. Give it a read and let me know what you think.