Simon Willison’s Weblog


6 items tagged “boring-technology”


Give people something to link to so they can talk about your features and ideas

If you have a project, an idea, a product feature, or anything else that you want other people to understand and have conversations about... give them something to link to!

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Serving a billion web requests with boring code (via) Bill Mill provides a deep retrospective from his work helping build a relaunch of the site.

It's a fascinating case study of the choose boring technology mantra put into action. The "boring" choices here were PostgreSQL, Go and React, all three of which are so widely used and understood at this point that you're very unlikely to stumble into surprises with them.

Key goals for the site were accessibility, in terms of users, devices and performance. Despite best efforts:

The result fell prey after a few years to a common failure mode of react apps, and became quite heavy and loaded somewhat slowly.

I've seen this pattern myself many times over, and I'd love to understand why. React itself isn't a particularly large dependency but somehow it always seems to lead to architectural bloat over time. Maybe that's more of an SPA thing than something that's specific to React.

Loads of other interesting details in here. The ETL details - where brand new read-only RDS databases were spun up every morning after a four hour build process - are particularly notable.

# 28th June 2024, 4:22 pm / accessibility, go, postgresql, scaling, react, boring-technology

Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology. Gunpei Yokoi’s product design philosophy at Nintendo (“Withered” is also sometimes translated as “Weathered”). Use “mature technology that can be mass-produced cheaply”, then apply lateral thinking to find radical new ways to use it.

This has echos for me of Dan McKinley’s “Choose Boring Technology”, which argues that in software projects you should default to a proven, stable stack so you can focus your innovation tokens on the problems that are unique to your project.

# 14th March 2024, 4:13 am / design, dan-mckinley, boring-technology


Porting VaccinateCA to Django

Visit Porting VaccinateCA to Django

As I mentioned back in February, I’ve been working with the VaccinateCA project to try to bring the pandemic to an end a little earlier by helping gather as accurate a model as possible of where the Covid vaccine is available in California and how people can get it.

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Getting started

Here we go then... I’ve signed up to work on this project full-time, four days a week!

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Choose Boring Technology (via) The definitive write-up of Dan McKinley’s presentation on why you should mostly use “boring” technology rather than going after the latest shiniest stack components. There’s so much accumulated wisdom in here. I particularly like how Dan owns up to having introduced Scala and MongoDB at Etsy before eventually helping remove them and go back to something less exciting and far more predictable. Also neat: the site is generated using Dan’s better-keynote-export tool which helps turn Keynote presentations into a flat web page with notes and images.

# 3rd July 2019, 6:09 pm / dan-mckinley, boring-technology