Applying the design principle of “white space” to code

I’m very interested in applying general design principles to software design. I am convinced that software design is just design applied to a specific material: code. Since design as a discipline is thousands of years old (the pyramids were designed) while software as we know it today is only a few decades old, I find it obvious that there’s a lot to learn from it.

Part of my exploration was to understand more about the design principles other designers use. One very common principle is the “white space” or “negative space”.

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I am a designer who happens to use code

There are many ways to look at programming. Some people do it to make a living. Others want to see things working fast and hack it away. Others believe in building a profession from programming and thus seek practices and submit themselves to challenges that expand their views.

It’s very easy to pass judgement on some of these attitudes. I will not do that.  People need to live, to support their families, to feel good while working. If anything, we should be happy that we, programmers, have opportunities other people don’t.

Instead, I will present my view on programming. A view shaped by a 40 years love story and a few key events. A view that I feel is shared by a very small minority of the community. I am encouraged to present this view by tweets from the recent DDD Europe conference.

Here’s my view:

I am a designer who happens to use code

Learning from other designers

I am a designer because I build upon the tradition, the practices, the techniques and the principles of design, a discipline that’s thousands of years old. I do this by reading, analysing and adapting techniques used by other designers.

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