The Over-Designed Product and Other Lessons on Feature Creep

More than once when considering the purchase of a software product, I have set aside the feature-heavy package for a simpler version with a better price and better mix of key functionality. More often than not, the package I choose has the core features that sold me on the product in the first place. More often than not, the features added to later versions of the same software are neither necessary nor helpful to the overall user experience.

The result of a common market phenomenon known as “feature creep,” these extra features were added to enhance the product, but actually diminish its value by adding too much complexity and cost. Few consumers purchase the more elaborate product, at which point it starts a slow but sure trek from sale bin to discontinuation. What sets apart the doomed “bloated” products from those that enjoy a long and productive shelf life? How can a corporation avoid “featurism” by packing too much of a good thing into an otherwise solid product? Here are a few points on how to stack the deck in your product’s favor.

Data is King: The Indisputable Value of Market Research

The ultimate goal of market research is to uncover hidden, but invaluable truths about your target industry. In unlocking the secrets to your primary consumer (and potentially striking market “gold”) you discover needs, difficulties, typical workflow processes, and key goals. Make use of quantitative and qualitative market research techniques to get answers to foundational questions. Primary research uses focus groups, surveys and well-designed questionnaires; secondary research pulls from existing articles, reports and analyses. At the conclusion of a thorough process, a road map to deliver needed help to your target consumer should be clear.

Identify key problems you are trying to solve for this industry. Prioritize the challenges and issues that are of primary importance and those that are secondary. Your target customer’s problems are front and center in the product development process and the driver behind effective product design. Don’t lose sight of them.

Make an Execution Plan

Outline a scope of work to develop a product that solves a key challenge for your target group. The plan of work will be based on conclusions derived from market research and objectives to incorporate key functionality and core features. Set a timeline to achieve major milestones and don’t stray from these target dates. You are incorporating non-negotiable, “bread and butter” features into your product and that is the end game. If you still have too many features to work with at this point and need to narrow the field, determine which features are more valuable to your target user than others. The use of a Pareto analysis, in which you attempt to identify the minimum features (20%) that generate the majority (80%) of the value, can be useful here.

Consider the development of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) at this stage as well.

If you Make it, Will they Buy?

The MVP is a bare-bones product with minimal up-front investment that indicates whether market research was nailed-or not. Targeted to a specific, well-researched group of consumers, the MVP could be the winning ticket—the long-awaited product that has been tailored to meet a specific need—or a real loser. The MVP gauges viable market interest and either establishes a receptive customer base or not. If it fails, anything more elaborate will fail too. The company will decide to go forward with the product as is, change it, or discontinue production altogether

Let Data Drive Design and Product Development

Let’s say the MVP is a success and the pressure is on to firmly establish market share. A common presumption is that more features result in a better product. Corporate development and design teams ramp up, ready to shift into high gear with “better” features and greater functionality—but this is where feature creep becomes a real risk. Make sure data-driven review processes are in place to analyze the risk and value of proposed new features.

Considerations should include user need, effects on user experience, and how a proposed feature adds or detracts from existing product design.

Keep budgets, corporate resources and timelines in mind. Continue to follow initial project goals and priorities. Early market research uncovered important truths about your customer base and data on user behavior should continue to drive design decisions. Consider analyses showing each of the product’s features with the percentage of users for each. Features with poor rates of use should be eliminated. These data and others will yield important information on product design moving forward.

The Value of a Simple Design

Failure to plan or follow a process for feature review and analysis can result in wasted corporate resources, missed deadlines, a product that no one wants, and irreversible financial losses. Thorough market research and planning and project objectives that keep the end user in mind at all times are essential to avoid feature creep. Don’t dismiss the value of a simple and user-friendly product that delivers a basic solution and does little more. Don’t dismiss a minimalist, yet effective, design strategy. Years from now, we will undoubtedly observe that the simple tools are the ones that outlast the complex.

Building Engineering Software

The Business of Building Engineering Software

Four Ways the Cloud Gives Us an Edge

We’ve come a long way as far as computer processing goes. Barely thirty years ago, enormous main-frame computers and other bulky physical hardware was the norm. Now each day new developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud analytics mean that corporations can operate at an entirely new level, realizing efficiencies that were just a pipedream several years ago.

Above all, emerging technologies can make running a business much easier. Developing world-class engineering software is hard. The question of how best to invest and grow is constantly front and center. Do we hire staff, invest in infrastructure, add to the product line? A business that wants to stay on top struggles to get it right. In the thick of all the decisions that need to be made, here’s one thing I’ve learned: The business that takes advantage of cloud computing is bound to come out ahead. Here are four reasons why software development and cloud technologies are a good fit.

1. Remote Work Doesn’t Slow Us Down

Code development requires programmers to work on their own—and in teams. Access to cloud-based coding platforms means that work done remotely is as efficient (if not more so) as work done physically in the office. Programmers can work autonomously but can also do paired virtual programming, sharing code when necessary to trouble-shoot problems. Code corrections can be deployed immediately to client desktops via a central server. Highly efficient teamwork is possible through programs like Microsoft Team, Visual Studio and others. The pandemic hit us hard and staff were forced to adjust to remote work, but thankfully the company’s “lifeblood”—our ability to develop state-of-the-art software code—didn’t suffer.

2. Our Programmers Take Advantage of Automation

Most professionals—and this includes software developers—have some aspect of their job that is repetitive and tedious. To be competitive, the process of developing code needs to be stream-lined and efficient. What does this mean? More time on content creation—less on editing. More and more cloud platforms offer a variety of code storage, review and analysis tools that eliminate the most mundane tasks associated with code development. To the extent coders are able to focus on the work that really counts, the better. In addition, cloud-based platforms give developers access to multiple coding languages, thus giving our developers yet another professional edge.

3. Our Engineering Clients Get a Leg Up with Data in the Cloud

Nearly all data relating to the physical environment is digitized. However, the enormous quantity of data this represents is impossible to physically store in one location, let alone one workstation. The success of world-class engineering software—and the professionals that use it—depends on access to data stored in the cloud. Our software is built around cloud-based data, some of which is pre-processed in our software applications. In addition, this data is accessible to both international and domestic customers via data servers located around the world. Our software computes and analyzes large data sets and has the capacity to scale this process up or down, per the client’s needs. Again, access to cloud capabilities sets a company apart from the competition.

4. The Cloud Eliminates Computer Hardware. Need We Say More?

Prior to the cloud, software companies were swamped with the costs of buying and maintaining physical hardware—and the software to run it. Since our operations moved to the cloud, we have few expenses associated with hardware maintenance. Server space is increasingly important, but we can easily contract for more. Did we mention data security? Our cloud provider offers security and back-up services. Another perk relates to company records. Here again a company can thrive: Administrative issues are handled seamlessly via cloud-based book-keeping software.

We have seen that at specific times throughout history, an invention or new process can catapult world commerce into a new era of efficacy and performance. The Industrial Revolution’s introduction of mechanized processes is a case in point. Manufacturing was never the same once mechanized processes took over; business protocols were irreversibly altered. Within the field of software development and computing, we could argue that the cloud is having a similar effect. Those that embrace it will realize numerous cost efficiencies and will be poised to surge ahead. The cloud, like the dawn of the assembly line some years ago, offers a competitive advantage to the companies that embrace it.

Top 10 Benefits of Cloud Computing

A recent Gartner survey reported that cloud computing will become a $300 billion business by 2021. In the simplest terms, cloud computing is computing over the internet.

Up until recently, users would run applications or programs downloaded on a physical computer or server at the workplace; cloud computing allows access to the same kinds of applications through the internet.

Updating your Facebook status or posting a story on Instagram? You are using cloud computing. Checking your bank balance using a mobile app? You are in the cloud, again. In short, cloud computing is now the new normal.

So, the question arises—why is there a greater inclination towards cloud computing? It is because cloud computing improves cash flow, increases efficiency, and provides many other benefits. Here are ten of the best reasons to embrace cloud computing:

1. Automatic Software Updates
Because the cloud is off-site and managed by an external software supplier, there is nothing that a company has to worry about. All software updates are taken care of by the software supplier, including security updates. So, no time is wasted on maintaining and managing the system. This gives you time to focus on more important things, like growing the business.

2. Superior Disaster Recovery
A robust disaster recovery system is critical for all businesses, but for smaller operations that are short on funds and expertise, this level of protection may never become a reality. Software suppliers are already backing up your cloud data—so there is generally no need to perform a local backup. However, for backing up local data, there are software backup solutions that can backup your local data to the cloud, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and other providers without having to purchase additional data backup hardware. As reported by the Aberdeen Group, it is twice as likely that small businesses will have cloud-based backup and recovery solutions than larger organizations. Clearly, companies that take advantage of these options can save time, avoid large up-front investments and reap the benefits of third-party expertise.

3. More Flexibility
The beauty of cloud computing is that it provides operational resilience and significantly more flexibility to the organization. Flexibility is critical to growing businesses, and for those businesses that have fluctuating usage, using cloud services simply makes sense. If transaction volumes or any other aspect of business operations change or are scaled up or down, it’s easy to increase or decrease cloud computing capacity accordingly. Flexibility is simply built into the service.

4. Improved Collaboration
If you run a global business, moving to the cloud makes sense on multiple level and is, quite simply, the ideal thing to do. Data and virtually all company resources can be accessed through the cloud, providing unlimited opportunities for collaboration in real-time. And, when your team can access, edit and share documents anytime, from anywhere, productivity is enhanced.

5. Document Control
Cloud computing improves transparency and accountability. The more teams collaborate, the greater the need to have in place the highest levels of document control. Sending files back and forth as email attachments is a flawed and inefficient system that leads to conflicting file content.

With cloud computing, files are saved in a central location and the most recent version of a working document is accessible. Collaborative projects are produced more efficiently and with greater transparency, which ultimately means higher work quality and a healthier bottom line.

6. Lower Capital Expenditure
Once you are utilizing cloud computing and storage, you will have easier access to data, which will save time and money. Cloud computing gives you the freedom to pay as you go and enjoy a subscription-based model that help cash flow. Expenditures on hardware are simply eliminated. Combined with ease of setup and worry-free maintenance, there are no longer scary IT projects to worry about.

7. Competitive Edge
Moving to the cloud means access to enterprise-grade technology, and that includes every individual in the company. This gives small organizations a tremendous edge as they can often react faster than big competitors. Cloud business applications and pay-as-you-go service mean small companies can compete with big organizations, and even disrupt the market, while staying lean and nimble.

8. Higher Level of Security
One of the responsibilities of a cloud service provider is to monitor security 24-7, which translates to a significantly more robust level of oversight than what can be provided with conventional on-site IT infrastructure. IT concerns loom large in a business setting and security is one of them. Although most companies don’t openly consider the possibility of internal data theft, the truth is that this happens quite frequently. Don’t mess with the statistics! It is much safer to keep sensitive data stored in the cloud. Cloud computing not only gives you the ability to remotely access data from any device, and from any geographic location, but it also allows you to remotely wipe data in order to prevent data theft.

9. More Insight
As the world moves further into the digital age, the old saying “Knowledge is power” takes on a modern translation: “Data is money”. Most cloud service providers now offer integrated cloud analytics tools and services for a more detailed view of data. You can easily implement tracking mechanisms and generate customized reports to analyze organization-wide information. With these tools, you can enhance efficiency and develop better plans to meet company goals.

10. Environment Friendly
Taking advantage of the cloud is good for the environment too. Whether a business is scaling up or down, the carbon footprint is diminished. Businesses only use the energy that is required to make the change and nothing more.

Moving to the cloud makes sense on multiple levels and is sure to streamline a company’s workflows and lead to a more profitable bottom line. Even one of the above benefits are sufficient reason to migrate to the cloud. But, if you consider all ten benefits, it is simply a no brainer that cloud computing is a must for businesses in the 21st century. What are your thoughts?

AngularJS vs. React: Our Verdict

The web is full of articles debating which is better – AngularJS or React (also known as React.js or ReactJS). Both frameworks are very good, but choosing a framework is not always easy, especially when you have so many experts voicing disparate views.

This article explains the shared concepts and differences between AngularJS and React, along with insights based upon our experience.

AngularJS & React Shared Concepts
It is true that you can be successful with AngularJS and/or React and learning one framework makes it easier to learn another. Picking a framework is important for the long term success and scalability of the project, but it is far more important to learn the concepts shared between the two frameworks.

By learning a given framework, you won’t just learn about that particular framework, but you’ll also learn about the following shared concepts:

  • Single-Page Applications (SPAs) ArchitectureSPA is a web app that loads a single HTML page, and then dynamically updates that page as per the user’s interactions with the web application. It eliminates the traditional request-response model upon which the classic web was built. Instead, it requires only that a single page be retrieved from the server.
  • Data Flow through an Application – defines the flow pattern of the data in a Model, View and Controller (MVC) architecture.
  • Templating – a process of creating templates. The templates take simple web applications to the next level, keeping your application logic separate from your presentation.
  • State Management – state is all the information retained by a program, and state management is the technique to manage the states. States can be a difficult part of web application development, especially when there are multiple user interactions to manage. The inherent ability of DOM to manage states helps, but for a complex application, keeping everything organized can become difficult.
  • Design and Development of Components – the concept of components is to make reusable pieces of code, for example Date Pickers, Sliders, etc. Components are important in building larger web applications as they make web application development simple and quick.
  • Client-Side Routing – a client-side routing occurs when the route is handled internally by the JavaScript which is loaded on the page. Clicking a link will change the URL, but a request to the server is prevented. Changes in the URL will result in a change in application state, which will ultimately result in a different view of the webpage.
  • Testing Methodologies – used to test a web application or a webpage.
  • Data Binding – a technique of defining communication between a component and the DOM. The technique makes building interactive web applications easier as the developer does not need to worry about pushing and pulling data.
  • Language Abstractions such as SASS and TypeScript in programming, abstraction is one of the four fundamental principles. It hides certain details and only shows the features that are essential to the object. SASS is a CSS extension, and TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript. They both reduce and factor-out code details and improve understandability and maintainability of the code.

Difference between AngularJS vs. React
AngularJS and React are two titans in a cutthroat industry with significant differences. AngularJS is a full-fledged framework developed and maintained by Google, whereas React is developed by Facebook and a library that deals with views. However, developers can add a few libraries in React and turn it into a complete framework. Then again, the resulting workflow is still very different from AngularJS.

React uses old-school JavaScript and builds HTML around it, which makes it seem easier at the initial phase. However, the use of additional tools makes it ultimately more difficult. On the other hand, AngularJS uses syntax and questions, which makes it challenging for programmers in the beginning, but the features it brings to the table tend to benefit the programmer more than those of React.

The main difference is state management. AngularJS has two-way data flow, whereas React uses one-way data flow. AngularJS has a built-in data binding, whereas React uses Redux to provide unidirectional data flow. Redux is a state management library based on Flux but has lower complexities. It is often used as a solution in React, however, it is not always required in AngularJS.

Also, AngularJS has less dependency on additional tools, utilities, and libraries in order to build applications, whereas in React, the dependency is high. Another key differentiator between AngularJS and React is the methodologies used to handle debugging. AngularJS uses runtime debugging which tends to provide less information than the information provided by React’s compile time debugging. Here’s a quick side-to-side comparison between AngularJS and React.

Learning Curve
At its core AngularJS is focused on building applications, while React is focused on building user interfaces. AngularJS is an easy, well-structured framework; if you have a good knowledge of JavaScript, CSS and HTML, it is quite easy to learn Angular. Besides, developers can refer to the official guide on building complete solutions using AngularJS, which will help in getting familiar with the framework. On the other hand, learning React itself is easy, but because you will never use React alone to build real-life applications, and you will need to learn additional tools, so the overall learning process gets harder. For a complete application development using React, you will need Redux, Axios or Fetch, Webpack or Grunt, etc., which might take some time to learn. Besides, the unidirectional data flow in React is complicated and can present a challenge.

In addition, React JSX is not really an HTML but is an extension to JavaScript. It is an XML and HTML like syntax that extends ECMAScript, so that the syntax, which is similar to XML/HTML can co-exist with React code. Developers who are not familiar with JSX will find difficulty in transitioning. Furthermore, lack of official documentation may steepen the learning curve for some developers.

Support for Tools
Both, AngularJS and React provide Command Line Interfaces (CLIs), which makes it easier to create new projects, support local deployment, and prepare apps for deployment. They also have great support within code editors like Atom and Visual Studio Code. You will need to install the appropriate editor extensions in order to get the best experience and maximize output.

Performance benchmarking is based on the time needed to complete specific tasks, such as rendering an items list. While performance benchmarks vary in some use cases, both frameworks offer similar performance overall. Therefore, this is not a significant differentiating factor for most developers.

Pros and Cons AngularJS
AngularJS is perfect for building applications and solutions. Its focus on application development—evidenced by the inclusion of features like form validation and routing—makes it popular among developers. AngularJS has a more capable CLI, which is used throughout the development of the app for creating new components, installing packages, and running migration and installation skills. It uses TypeScript, which offers developers with less JavaScript experience an easier transition to client-side development. And although it may take a bit to get used to the AngularJS binding syntax, being able to use the native HTML and CSS for templates and styles is a plus. AngularJS is best for creating cross-platform mobile apps, enterprise apps, and progressive web apps and hybrid mobile apps.


  • It is an all-inclusive framework
  • Provides guidance on how to build complete solutions
  • TypeScript
  • Capable CLI
  • DOM manipulation
  • Popular with organizations
  • Provides support for native HTML and CSS


  • Has a large API
  • JavaScript support mandatory
  • Offers limited routing resources

The large AngularJS API and the overall approach to build apps sometimes makes it a bit difficult to learn, but it is still easier to learn than other frameworks. AngularJS code, which consists of static types, decorators, and the use of a configuration-based approach, can feel complex and verbose at times.

React is very popular, evident in the fact that there is a large community of developers supporting the framework. The availability of a wide variety of community-developed, open-source extensions for React gives the developer multiple options for building complete solutions. Outside of the pure React library, there are three distinctive versions of React, namely: React-devtools, React Native and React.Net. With React you can build anything; therefore, in cases where you have to build a custom solution, React will best address your needs. React is good for building computation-less or logic-less applications. This is particularly true if you are building dynamic applications, single page apps, and native mobile apps.


  • Easy component creation
  • Elegant API
  • Popular with startups
  • Large support community of developers
  • Fast rendering with Virtual-DOM
  • Hundreds of open-source extensions


  • Transitioning to JSX
  • Availability of options can overwhelm
  • Code might feel complex
  • Building complete solutions requires third party libraries

In React, component templates are written in JSX and not native HTML, so there is a bit of an adjustment period. Because React is generally used to build user interfaces, there is a need to extend React with third party libraries. Luckily, several great options exist for meeting all requirements. However, having too many choices can overwhelm or confuse developers—especially if they are beginners.

Our Verdict
Comparing JavaScript development platforms like AngularJS and React is like comparing which mobile platform is better: Android or iOS. Usually the use-case, framework stability, learning curve, and project requirements will determine the framework to choose. And, as per our experience, AngularJS has been faster to adopt and easier to learn, because you do not need to learn a bunch of new technologies. Also, because there is a very large community of active developers, AngularJS is much easier to maintain. What is your verdict?

Top 10 Software Development Technologies 2019

Top 10 Software Development Technologies to Learn in 2019

Software development is a dynamic domain, where programming languages, frameworks and technologies may live or die within a short time period. Job market needs are also changing, but the demand for developers remains high.

Recently, Pluralsight reported the most popular software development technologies of the past, along with those that are likely to grow in importance. These technologies are here to stay and are likely to become more and more influential in the coming years.

Here are the top 10 software development technologies of 2019 as per our ranking:

1. AngularJS
AngularJS is a JavaScript Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) framework created by Google and is perfect for building highly interactive web apps. It has the Google hype and is a complete solution that can run in any browser environment irrespective of the platform. AngularJS is reliable and pretty comprehensive, meaning that if you know MVC or knockout or cappuccino, it is easy to learn Angular’s testing API. Besides, if you consider the community support, no other JavaScript framework can beat AngularJS, which helps in quickly solving coding errors and issues. 

2. Java
Java is a popular language, used worldwide for Android application development along with enterprise software development. All Android devices are based on Java and about 90% of the Fortune 500 companies rely on Java as a server-side language for backend development. This language has been around for over two decades and still is one of the most popular programming languages. Thanks to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), Java can run on almost every system. It is also highly scalable and has a large user community, all of which helps in solving almost any problem that a developer is likely to encounter.

3. Swift
It was obvious to include Swift on this list, thanks to iPhones. But, that’s just one of the many reasons to support it. iOS is expanding and there is a giant market for this language. If you are into iOS app development, Swift is definitely a lucrative career path and it is proving to be an excellent language for multiple reasons. It is Apple’s new programming language for developing native iOS and Mac-OS applications. It is more advanced than Objective C and yet is influenced by languages like Python and Ruby. The language is more user-friendly than existing applications and has the potential to reshape the future of app development.

4. Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails is one of the most sought after programming languages by employers. It is a web application framework designed for rapid prototyping, allowing the programmer to test and build site concepts in an efficient way. It is extremely powerful as an all-purpose language, and many businesses make use of it. Some big-name companies that have used the software include: Twitter, Airbnb, Shopify, and Groupon. Programming web applications using Ruby on Rails is easy, and developers will find it to be a very user-friendly application. The language is free from intricate codes and hence encourages efficiency and rapid development of applications.

5. Git
Git has gained huge popularity over the past few years and is today one of the most recognized technologies used in software development. It is an open source system commonly used to store code. The technology provides the best performance in terms of a version control system and handles security with the SHA-1 cryptographic method. This algorithm securely manages versions, files and directories, so that your work belongs only to you. Because it is an open source application, developers can contribute to the software, making it more powerful through the addition of new features and plugins.

6. C++
This language is an extension of C and is a little hard to learn, but it is used in almost everything from server infrastructure to operating systems to game development. C++ is a highly efficient and flexible language used by developers across the globe due to its performance, reliability and the variety of contexts in which it can be used. If you have used a PC running Windows or a Macintosh, you have indirectly used C++, because the primary user interfaces of both are written in C++.

7. C#
C# pronounced as C Sharp is an object-oriented language built on the C foundation. It is the prominent software development language for native Microsoft applications. It is also the go-to language for building cross-platform apps on the Xamarin platform. Using Xamarin and C# together saves you a lot of time as you can write a single application using the two technologies and deploy to both simultaneously. Finally, if you are interested in VR development, then you should consider learning C# because it is the recommended language for building video games. 

8. Python
This language dates back to 1989 and is a favorite of many developers for its highly readable code. One of the easiest programming languages to learn, Python is neat and well-structured. Proper indentation is not just for formatting here—it determines the code execution. It is a general purpose language and is used by big players like NASA and Google. Recently, Django and Flask, which are both Python based web-development frameworks, have been gaining popularity, which shows the growing influence of the programming language.

9. PHP
PHP is a server side scripting language and a popular choice among web developers thanks to its ability to easily create simple websites. It is a vital backend tool for large companies like Wikipedia, Facebook and Yahoo. It is also popular because of the role it plays in the WordPress content management system. Almost 80% of the websites on the internet are using PHP in some capacity. As far as programming languages go, PHP is still frequently in use and is considered a good language for the beginner.

10. SQL
SQL is the standard query language for updating, retrieving and manipulating data in databases. Nearly every application has a backend database, and SQL helps you interact with the data in those databases. It is technically not a programming language because it lacks the basic programming language functions such as looping, However, this capability can be achieved with extensions like PL/SQL. As per the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), SQL is the standard for relational database management system.

There you have it—the most popular technologies for software development in 2019. What do you think about the list? How many of the technologies listed above have you used in the recent past?