HomeThoughts and MusingsThomas M. Tuerke on Design • Simplicity is the Soul of Invention?

Simplicity is the Soul of Invention?

design: /di·'zin/

   n a deliberate plan for the creation or development of an object. vt: to create something according to plan.
   good design: /'gud —/ the product of deliberate forethought and careful understanding of the purpose of a subject, resulting in a subject which significantly improves its utility, allowing it to integrate seamlessly and naturally into the role for which it is intended.
false synonyms: fashion, decor.

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Simplicity is the Soul of Invention?

Many years ago, while I was still new to Autodesk, I went to some out-of-house AutoCAD training. We had just released R14, with lots of whistle-and-bang features new to the product. I was silently proud as the instructor was showing off all the new things colleagues had worked on, and there was a quiet appreciation for these.

Then another student spoke up: "Yeah, that's all well and good, but you know, I really wish that they could make it easier when I do so-and-so."

"Oh," the instructor quipped. "Here's how you do that..." and he whipped out a two-line AutoLisp script; "Here," demonstrating the command a few times.

"Now that's cool! That'll save me two or three hours a week!" the student replied. I noticed that many others were scribbling down the (defun) too.

Often, the A-ha moments are just little things like this, a thing so simple it can be incorporated into a startup script. Unfortunately, it's easy to overlook them, focusing on "big ticket" features, or otherwise bloating simple solutions into complex overblown monstrosities that lose sight of their original purpose. Brevity is the soul of wit, they say, and simplicity may also be at the heart of innovation.