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The Secret of Simple Code

Is there a shortcut to becoming a 10x developer? Is there some magical secret that — if you only knew it — would unlock a whole new world of software development mastery and productivity for you?

This is where the doubters are thinking “There are no shortcuts! Everybody needs to practice to get good!” And that’s true enough, but what are the experts of software productivity practicing, and is there one key thing that can make a huge difference?

Yes! There is!

But even if I share it with you — even if I give it away and spell it out for you in detail— it might take you 10 years to grow into and fully appreciate the simplicity of it.

At least, that’s what happened to me. It was spelled out to me in plain English by my high school programming teacher. I was walked step-by-step through the process of applying it using some example code. And it didn’t really sink in until 10 years later. But now, with the benefit of experience, it’s a lesson I appreciate profoundly, and even though I know it’s a lesson you can’t truly appreciate at first glance — I’m going to share it with you.



This secret is a key difference between average productivity and 10x productivity. Using the leverage that this secret provides, you can be orders of magnitude more efficient.

You can write code that is more reusable and less likely to break when new requirements are introduced and things change in the surrounding code.

The secret to being 10x more productive is to gain a mastery of abstraction. A lot of developers treat “abstraction” like it’s a dirty word. You’ll hear (otherwise good) advice like, “don’t abstract too early” or Zen of Python’s famous “explicit is better than implicit,” implying that concrete is better than abstract. And all of that is good advice — depending on context.

But modern apps use a huge amount of code. If you printed out the source code of modern top 10 applications, those stacks of paper would compete with the height of skyscrapers, and software costs a lot of money to maintain. The more code you create, the more it costs.


Abstraction is the Key to Simple Code

The right abstractions can make code more readable, adaptable, and maintainable by hiding details that are unimportant for the current context, and reducing the amount of code required to do the same work — often by orders of magnitude.


const doubleList = list => {
  const newList = [];
  for (var i = 0; i < list.length; i++) {
    newList[i] = list[i] * 2;
  return newList;