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Software Engineering: Premature Featurization

"Premature Featurization" is my term for the tendency to implement a plethora of features before they've even been requested by real users just in case a user might want them.

It's related to creeping featurism. Like premature optimization, it leads to difficult-to-maintain code bloat.

Product managers and managers in general are especially prone to premature featurization. When experienced developers themselves fall prey to premature featurization, they may be suffering from second system effect.

To some degree, the opposite of premature featurization is creeping elegance, which is where an existing piece of code is polished excessively at the expense of other factors such as the schedule or real world features.

It should be pointed out that agile software development aims to prevent premature featurization in that it forces coders to code only those features that the stake holders have requested as they request them. However, it tends to be an enabler for premature featurization in that it allows stake holders to successfully request an unlimited number of features since the programmer doesn't have to design a complete, minimalistic, cohesive design ahead of time.

Whereas time management is occasionally used by project managers to organize a developer's time as he attempts to implement a premature list of features, the goal of task management is to constrain the list of features requested to the minimal set possible.


Jeff said…
Depends on your business model. R&D into new features pays off when trying to attract new users and clients to your software.