Friday, October 28, 2011

New Word: Simplility

I am introducing a new word into the IT lexicon: simplility. Simplility is defined as the intentional architectural design of simplicity into a software application

Simplility follows a long tradition of "ilities" such as portability, reliability, and scalability. These all imply that somebody has made an intentional decision to include specific attributes in an application. Nobody expects an application to be portable, reliable, or secure by accident. We understand that it take skill and effort to give an application these attributes. And we understand that there are important reasons for doing so.

Why, you may ask, do we need a new word? Why not just use the word simplicity? The problem with simplicity is that we take it for granted. To say that an application is simple simply does not have the same cachet as saying the application is scalable. We understand that scalable has business value. 

So we need a word that elevates the attribute of simplicity to the same level of the other ilities that we understand provide business value. We need a word that announces that simplicity is a business asset and that it takes skill, effort, and commitment to incorporate this attribute into applications.

There is one problem with the world simplility. It implies that simplility is equal in importance to portability, reliability, or security. In fact, simplility is more important. It is the primary architectural attribute, the one from which all other attributes flow. 

Take security, for example. A system that has simplility baked in is one that will be much easier to make secure than one that lacks simplility. Complex systems are inherently insecure. 

The same with reliability. The greater the simplility, the greater the reliability. Complex systems are inherently unreliable.

So if we are serious about IT architecture, we need to get serious about simplility. It is the most important ility of all. And starting today, it has its own word.

1 comment:

Colin Hope-Murray said...

I like the neologism and agree that it fills a large gap in the understanding of business solutions. I have always held that simplicity is the first rule of architects but the word is too lightweight to carry the importance and impact of the ability, especially amongst those responsible for profitability and marketability. But I agree it must now be the prime purpose of architects to educate and instruct the enterprise they support on why simplicity is paramount, especially with all the appeal and risks of cloud computing.

30 years ago I remember doing the same with measurability followed over the years by manageability, reliability, serviceability. Simplility can now join that pantheon at the head of the table.