Presentation: Coding without Complexity

Track: Languages of Infrastructure

Location: Bayview AB

Duration: 5:25pm - 6:15pm

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What You’ll Learn

  1. Hear about complexity in software and the need to remove it as much as possible.
  2. Listen about current complexity existing around building distributed systems.
  3. Learn about the possibility to remove something that is not absolutely needed as a way to reduce complexity.


As developers, we do both the essential work of building software, and the accidental work that comes with using computers. Over time, the accidental complexity in our work has proliferated. How did this happen? How bad is it? How could we fix it?


What is the work you're doing today?


Trying to figure out how to remove as much accidental complexity from building back-end web services as possible.What that means is we've been building a holistic programming language editor and infrastructure where each piece is aware of the other two.


What are the goals for the talk?


I'm interested to talk about how we've gotten to a world where building a distributed system is so complicated and why that happens as a result of the philosophy we've taken as software engineers. And what a different approach to the future might look like. As well as what it looks like when we start to put pieces of our toolset together instead of just building individual tools that do one thing well.


In the abstract, you talk about the accidental work that comes with using computers. Can you expand a little bit on that?


That's a referral back to Fred Brooks's essay in 1986 called "No silver bullet." He was talking about how we kept trying to say we would be able to build software way faster but at the time most of the work we were doing needed to be done. One of the things that really helped us build software faster back then was garbage collection and not having to worry about memory management so much. Today we're worried about our distributed systems and our tracing and our infrastructure and everything around that. We spend more time thinking about how to deploy and operate our software than the business logic we're building.


What do you want people to leave the talk with?


I want people to leave the talk thinking about, instead of what is the cool new thing I should add to my stack, what is something I could take out that would actually make me be able to deploy software faster to users.

Speaker: Ellen Chisa

CEO/Cofounder @darklang

Ellen Chisa is the Cofounder & CEO of Dark, a holistic programming language, editor, and hosted infrastructure.

Find Ellen Chisa at

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