Sunday, November 26, 2017

How Do I Decide Between appX and appY?

Hardly a day goes by without some developer or tester asking me about some tools or applications. These could be any tools or apps, so let's call them X and Y.

Usually, the question is simple, but asked with heart-stopping urgency:

"Is X better than Y?"

Rather than provide an answer, I tell them they would be better off not asking such "better than?" questions.

Software apps and tools are complex systems. Consequently any X-Y pair will differ on a number of dimensions. X will be better on some; Y will be better on others. Or both will be useless or poor for your needs.

If you're choosing a tool or an app, start with assessing your needs. Then, instead of asking which is better, ask

"Which fits my needs better, X or Y?"

If neither one fits you needs, then look for a third alternative, or a fourth.

In the rare case when both X and Y fit your needs, you might meaningfully ask, "Which is better—for me, at this moment?"

If X and Y still seem equal, then flip a coin. Heads, take X. Tails, take Y.

Then, while the coin is in the air, your mind will usually make the decision, not willing to allow the coin drop to make the decision for you.

But, if your mind doesn't decide, then let the coin drop decide. At that point, it shouldn't matter.

But if you reach this point, wait a moment before you choose X or Y. During that moment, consider the following two questions:

Can I take both X and Y?

What about Z? Is there some third alternative I haven't considered?

Indeed, instead of asking "which is better" questions, ask, "What is the problem I'm trying to solve?"

Are Your Lights On?: How to know what the problem really is?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

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