In his original Rails demo video, DHH stressed the things he didn’t have to do. By 2005 standards, elements of Rails’ unceremonious approach felt almost magical.
I was reminded of it by Joel Spolsky’s announcement of HyperDev:
Notice what you DIDN’T do. You didn’t make an account. You didn’t use Git. Or any version control, really. You didn’t deal with name servers. […]
It’s effective marketing, but I like the approach far beyond its value in press releases or demos.
It’s the right mindset. We should ask ourselves, what kind of burden can I remove from my users? It might be a trivial obstacle, but can I somehow remove it? Automate it?
In my experience, asking the question is enough to shift the perception of what’s possible. Often we accept the status quo without questioning it, until we see someone else do it, only to realize that the old way was unnecessary.
What can I change that will allow me to say to my users, “Notice what you didn’t do”?
Whether it’s a tool for fellow developers, an API, or a program for end users, asking this kind of question will undoubtedly lead to better experiences and fewer artificial barriers to overcome.