Keep It Simple: How to Become a Minimalist Programmer

When you have decided to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, you begin to be more aware of the many aspects of our lives where minimalist approaches are useful to apply.

As we experience the rise of advanced technological developments like the Internet of Things and astoundingly diverse mobile apps that turn our smartphones into all-powerful allies in the performance of daily tasks, it is no surprise to see minimalism applied in software design, too. And it’s not unlikely that you’ve wished an app or other piece of software were more minimalist either.

What is Minimalism in Programming?

There is a whole school of thought in software engineering and programming that ascribes to minimalism. In essence, it transposes the minimalist philosophy to GUI design by using the least possible amount of resources. According to minimalist programmers, this translates to designing simpler products, introducing complexities and external dependencies only when this is absolutely necessary and thus also minimizing potential points of failure. Principles that minimalist software engineers live by include trying to implement Pareto’s law, where 20% of effort can yield 80% of the end results, keeping design plain, and removing unnecessary distractions. In terms of the user experience, minimalism means having an app that can do one or two things very well rather than an app that tries to do everything for you, which often means it’s not as polished in its approach.

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Yet minimizing your reliance on external dependencies or minimizing GUIs often means that you have to code things from scratch. This also helps ensure that you are using the simplest and cleanest version of what you were looking for. Learning programming languages allows you to do that, as you can then employ your skills into coding your own software that adheres to minimalist values. If you would like to expand your skillset into learning how to code, you could start by looking into which programming languages are used the most by developers.

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How to Become a Minimalist Coder?

Usually professionals employ a combination of language but there are some clear winners: in 2017, 62.5% of coders stated that they have used JavaScript, 51.2% have worked with SQL, almost 40% reported having used Java, and C# was employed by a further 34.1%. Python ranked fifth with 32% reported users, but it seems that it has gained ground since then and it is estimated to rise at the forefront of programming languages in a few years, so it might be a great place to start for the minimalist programmer. Its pliability and flexibility are also proven by the fact that, as research suggests, Python also seems to be the language of choice for hackers, with cybersecurity firm Imperva reporting that 77% of the sites it protects were attacked using Python-based tools. With hacker attacks on the rise, however simple the design of a new piece of software might be, it is important to always factor in safeguards related to data security so that data stays protected against ransomware attacks and data theft. Clients that will take on and implement your software appreciate simplicity and user-friendly environments, but they also value cybersecurity and not having to deal with the headache of mitigating data breaches. Yet this should all be done in balance with the digital minimalist manifesto: declutter and avoid overwhelm and excess, by doing away with elements that overburden your design without offering something new.

Minimalism is not easy to convert to – but once you do, you will find that you were making your life harder before you adopted a minimalist approach. And this is true for coders, too.

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