solve simpler problems first

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Part of the start-simple microformats principle.

Start with:


simpler problems

Large problems can often be difficult to solve and may seem to require complex solutions.

The first step to creating a simple solution is starting with a simpler problem.

parts of problems

One way to simplify a problem is to solve a part of the problem before attempting to solve the entire problem. Often the experience gained with solving a portion of the problem will illuminate other aspects of the problem and make them easier to solve.

specific problem

Look for a problem to solve in a specific real world domain, rather than a broad set of domains. When generic examples are given, ask for specific examples.

immediate problem

Prefer addressing an immediate problem over a (often simply hypothetically perceived) longer term problem.

the 80 percent

Look at solving perhaps the 80% of instances of real world (see related principle: humans-first) uses of that specific problem rather than trying to solve 100% of such use-cases.

It's very hard to solve a hard problem directly in its entirety, that is by trying to jump to designing (and/or building) a 100% solution to a hard problem.

It is much easier to solve the "easy" or "common" 80% of a problem, and once that's been solved and implemented, you iterate (using the filter of the real world) and figure out what the next 80% is that needs (per real world needs, not hypothetical needs) solving. See start-simple for more on iteration.

Note also that the 80% of examples refers to content being published (i.e. human content publishing behavior), not to syntax or explicit schema, e.g. class names, other formats etc. Which formats and names to consider re-using for microformats property names etc. is another part of the process and is described a bit in naming-principles.


solve simpler problems first was last modified: Monday, June 1st, 2009