Creeping featurism



jargon
/kree’ping fee’chr-izm/ (Or “feature creep”) A systematic tendency to load more chrome and features onto systems at the expense of whatever elegance they may have possessed when originally designed. “The main problem with BSD Unix has always been creeping featurism.”
More generally, creeping featurism is the tendency for anything to become more complicated because people keep saying “Gee, it would be even better if it had this feature too”. The result is usually a patchwork because it grew one ad-hoc step at a time, rather than being planned. Planning is a lot of work, but it’s easy to add just one extra little feature to help someone, and then another, and another, …. When creeping featurism gets out of hand, it’s like a cancer.
Usually this term is used to describe computer programs, but it could also be said of the federal government, the IRS 1040 form, and new cars. A similar phenomenon sometimes afflicts conscious redesigns; see second-system effect. See also creeping elegance.
[Jargon File]
(1997-08-03)

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