Less options = good

Bill deHora comments on Mnot’s latest, saying this about something he heard somebody say;

He has a nice comment near the end on how having less options can be a good thing.

I didn’t hear the interview, but yah, absolutely. It’s arguably the fundamental theorem of design (all design, not just software design). But we should be careful to clarify that it’s “less options” of form, not function. That is, by constraining form we’re only limiting how solutions are developed, not what those solutions are capable of doing. I think that if the point was better understood by Web services proponents, we would have made progress towards decisions like this one – which constrains form by virtue of requiring all identifying information in a single data element, without constraining function – a long time ago (and arguably never have bothered with Web services at all).

I’ve been heard to explain my transition from being a CORBA proponent to a Web proponent in these same terms; that I in a gestalt moment in 1998, I realized that the Web was, more or less, “distributed objects” (“identifiable things on a network that you can chuck messages at”) with some additional constraints on form.

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