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Sometimes More is More

We all hear all the time that less is more. That sim­ple is bet­ter, that com­plex is worse, that op­tions are evil, that de­faults are what mat­ter.

And yes, that is about 90% true. Ex­cept when it is false, which I know be­cause I bought a coat a few weeks ago.

This is a rather nice coat, and if you saw it with­out much care you would miss one of its best fea­tures: it has two pock­ets on each side.

Let's think about why we want pock­ets in the sides of coat­s:

  1. To put our hands when it's cold. Since this is a cold weath­­er coat, that's im­­por­­tan­t. In mod­­er­ate cli­­mates like this one, gloves are more trou­ble than they are worth, and just stick­­ing hands in pock­­ets is enough.

  2. To put stuff that is not hands in them: keys, phones, mon­ey, can­dy, etc.

For the first use case, we want the pock­ets to be shal­low an­gled, so that the hand goes in nat­u­ral­ly, al­most hor­i­zon­tal­ly. Al­so, we want the ac­cess to be un­ob­struct­ed, so no zip­per­s, which al­so scratch the wrist­s.

For the sec­ond use case, we want things not to fall of­f. So we want ei­ther a ver­ti­cal pock­et (per­haps with a flap) or a zip­per. Zip­pers suck be­cause you can for­get to zip them, and things fall of­f. Ver­ti­cal pock­ets are aw­ful to put your hands in.

So, my jack­et has two pock­ets on each side, one with a zip­per, one with­out. One for hand­s, one for things. Since it's a thick coat you don't see it un­less you know what you are look­ing for, and it's triv­ial to use: ev­ery­thing goes in the zipped one, ex­cept my hand. I can even check the con­tents of the zipped pock­et with­out get­ting my hands out of their pock­et­s.

This is one case where more is more, com­plex is bet­ter, op­tions are awe­some, and de­faults don't mat­ter. Now, if you find a place in soft­ware where that's the case, that's an op­por­tu­ni­ty.

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