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Principle 30 – Follow The Lemmings With Care

Excerpt from Alan M. Davis’ excellent book "201 Principles of Software Development" which ever programmer, QA person, consultant, project manager, analyst…shoot, anyone involved in software should own this book and review it regularly.

If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing. -Anatole France

Just because everybody is doing something does not make it right for you. It may be right, but you need to carefully assess its applicability to your environment (Principles 142, 143, 149, 150, and 151), software reuse (Principle 84), process maturity (Principle 163), computer-aided software engineering (CASE, Principles 22 through 25), and prototyping (Principles 11, 12, 13, and 42). In all cases, these offer very positive opportunities for increased quality, decreased cost, or increased user satisfaction. However, the advantages are available only to those organizations in which it makes sense. Although the rewards are significant, their potentials are often oversold and are by no means guaranteed or universal.

When you learn about a "new" technology, don’t readily accept the inevitable hype associated with it (Principle 129). Read carefully. Be realistic with respect to payoffs and risks. Run experiments before making major commitments. But by no means can you afford to ignore "new" technologies (see related Principle 31).

Ref: Davis, A., "Software Lemmingineering," IEEE Software, 10, 6 (September 1993), pp. 79-81, 84.

The index points object oriented programming to Principle 30 calling OO a "fad" (see Priniciple 31) since object oriented programming is really one implementation of the principle of encapsulation (Principle 65). This is by no means to berate object oriented program, which I enjoy very much, but simply to point out that OO is not always the best solution to a particular problem.

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