What's Golden Path?

by Jay Cuthrell
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Music: Jurassic 5 - What’s Golden (2002)

This week we take a look at the definition of a golden path in the rising coverage related to topics of platform engineering and developer experience.

Getting Informed

If you didn’t know already, Fudge Sunday offers a Spotify playlist of the music that inspired 75+ weeks of issues. Mash that subscribe button, or something.

Speaking of Spotify, back in 2020 the engineering team posted using the term “golden path”. To paraphrase, a “golden path” in this context describes a journey towards conspicuous and continuous improvements in the essential toolchain for a growing software development team.


So, does a “golden path” help with avoiding periodic existential crises of bike shed door paint Pantone selection in the software development organization as a whole? That’s harder to say with any level of certainty.

On any particular surface the pen lands on 🎶

So, is there _one_ golden path? Two? Three? Many?

Where did it originate? No, really?

Let’s take a quick survey of blog posts and references to a golden path and golden paths.

At first, I assumed this was a Ruby on Rails community meme.


The first reference I could find on Twitter (if search is to be trusted at this stage in the lifecycle) seems to be close.

A few years later…

Next, speaking of Ruby on Rails, long before repatriation from the cloud to a [ checks notes ] data center in Chicago… there was this gem (no pun intended):

To be clear, looking across the community (outside of Ruby on Rails) as well as independent voices and vendors was my next rabbit hole. And the findings were varied.


  • CNCF calls out “_templates and docs enabling optimal use of capabilities in products_”
  • Internal Developer Platform draws upon findings from Manjunath Bhat at Gartner

Writers / Consultants / Practitioners

  • Matt Campbell of InfoQ (2021) opts for a Netflix paved path reference… perhaps not so golden?
  • Manuel Pais of Team Topologies highlights the need for something that “_covers most cases_” with “_certain guarantees_”
  • Galo Navarro of Adevinta / New Relic / Midokura calls out the need for something “_that enables engineers to use the tools they’re familiar with or the best tools for the job on hand without requiring them to assemble those tools every time they need to do something_”


  • Charity Majors of Honeycomb wrote about this in 2018 which was almost two years (!) before the Spotify engineering post linked above
  • Kaspar von Grünberg of Humanitec calls out the slippery slope of paths that become cages where all that glitters (and splinters?) is not gold
  • Rita Manachi of VMware calls out the developer need for something “_that is blessed by their infrastructure and operations, security and platform engineering teams_”
  • Raffaele Spazzoli of Red Hat educates and offers “_a simple maturity model_” as well as “_how to implement_” with the caveat that it is still “_early days_”

We still the same with a little fame 🎶

At this point, I believe a golden path is a specific journey towards conspicuous and continuous improvements in the essential toolchain for economically growing software development team velocity with increasing quality, productivity, and — frankly — _joy_. Just as there are many developed software applications, there will be many journeys and perhaps just as many golden paths — as a plurality.

But, there are a few thoughts I’d like to share a few analogy riffs. I promise not to get too far past 500 words. 🤓

Pyrite Paths

Iron disulphide (pyrite) is a beautiful mineral that has a more common name: Fool’s Gold. How can an organization be sure that the Golden Path™️ isn’t actually a Fool’s Golden Path?

Trail Blazing, Blazed Trails, Paved Paths, Golden Paths, and Buried Walls

When I think in terms of ibles and ables it comes down to another version of sit, crawl, walk, run, and fly. What is a reinforced concrete superhighway if not a modern version of the Roman buried wall approach to building a path that is meant to last for traffic at scale.

Democratized Kwisatz Haderach / Bene Gesserit

Does the Golden Path mean that only a small subset of developers can be the visionaries? Or, could the vision be shared without the requirement of psychotropic worm innards or genetically merging with an armor of larvae?

Does a golden path include a yellow brick road to an Emerald City?

Oracle is still very interesting to me. From my early telecom days to present day, I still wonder what the Oracle M&A team will be focused on in the coming months for 2023.

So, what will be the next big thing in the pursuit of golden paths?

Until then… Place your bets!


I am linking to my disclosure.



✍️ 🤓 Edit on Github 🐙 ✍️

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