Ian Mulvany

September 3, 2022

When should you build platforms?

Don’t build a platform, build one thing that works! - this post (Link) covers some very good advice on how to evolve towards platforms - or not. The key message here is to avoid enterprise thinking and premature optimisation of committing to platform delivery before there are real world use cases. I’ve added some key quotes below. 

A good platform solves a problem really well for many different products. 

Good platforms are derived from real-world use. Bad platforms anticipate how the world should work. 

Here are a couple good indicators of when to avoid building a platform:
  • When you have 1 product that can use it
  • When you have 0 products that can use it
If you are building a platform that doesn’t hook into any currently live product, you are doing it backwards.

This is what the essence of agile development is all about. Pick a well-scoped problem, build it with  boring, well-documented technology , and solve a problem for real users. Instead of diving head-first into a big abstract platform, it’s much easier to reason about a concrete use-case: building out a small end-to-end slice of a larger service and using that as a building block.

About Ian Mulvany

Hi, I'm Ian - I work on academic publishing systems. You can find out more about me at mulvany.net. I'm always interested in engaging with folk on these topics, if you have made your way here don't hesitate to reach out if there is anything you want to share, discuss, or ask for help with!