Avoiding complexity and other lessons from Dr. Venkat Subramaniam

  • Jamie Cole, Research and Innovation Lead
  • July 26, 2019

It was a great honor to have Dr. Venkat Subramaniam speak to the Northwest England tech community at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester on Thursday night. What a fantastic venue to host the first Matillion event for area developers and engineers.  Manchester is the site of two massive technological leaps forward that changed the world. It is not only the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, it’s also the home of the first programmable computer.

The weather was uncharacteristically warm and sunny for Manchester. The event started with drinks and nibbles outside the impressive historic venue. Afterward, attendees went inside for a demonstration of Baby, the Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine, a reproduction of that first programmable computer.

Following the demo, the man of the hour, Dr. Venkat Subramaniam, took the stage. A highly sought-after industry expert, he has helped companies effectively apply sustainable agile practices to their software projects, with great success. If you’re not familiar with his background, his list of accomplishments is impressive:

  • Award-winning author (check out his books on Amazon) 
  • Founder of Agile Developer, Inc.
  • Instructional professor at the University of Houston
  • Mentor to thousands of software developers in North America, Europe, and Asia

Lessons for the tech community

He delivered a brilliant lecture that managed to make the often dry topic of software engineering engaging, entertaining, and even humorous. The lessons, drawn from his past experience with large scale software development projects, clearly demonstrate one thing:  

Avoiding complexity throughout all stages of development brings many short-term and long-term benefits.

Here are some lessons and highlights from his presentation:

“Agility is the ability to adapt to change.”

venkat onstage agility is the ability to adapt to change

Just saying you are agile is not a fix-all solution. You actually have to understand it and put it into practice.

“XML is like humans – cute when small, annoying as it gets bigger.”

venkat onstage xml is like humans: cute when small but annoying as it gets larger

XML has a habit of growing out of control. It’s not really something people should ever be editing by hand.

“You don’t use Maven…it uses you.” 

Venkat onstage You don't use Maven, it uses you

Any Java developer knows this. It doesn’t need an explanation…

Use libraries wisely

My biggest takeaway from the lecture is that while using external libraries may save some time initially, adding lots of dependencies to your software project will quickly become a nightmare. Libraries are important tools. However, they should only be used sparingly and in a considered manner. Otherwise, you’ll spend more time updating, fixing, and replacing libraries than writing your own code!

We hope everyone that attended had a great time. If you missed this lecture, please follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and check back on our blog so you don’t miss out on our next community event. 

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