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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.
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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.
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.
@just3ws Actually, there are several “golden paths”, but teams pick one and infrastructure issues become solved problems.— H. Alan Stevens (@alanstevens) July 8, 2009
A few years later…
Once more I wandered off Rails golden path into the gloom armed with my trusty yak hatchet. Hours later I emerge victorious covered in fur— MrJaba (@MrJaba) December 16, 2013
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):
Programmers love to delude themselves into thinking that unit-test coverage of golden paths means quality software. “Worksforme / close”.— DHH (@dhh) January 19, 2015
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.
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. 🤓
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?
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.
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?
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!
As a reminder, after a +25 year walkabout, I’m an IBMer (again). For 2023, in “Work Plug”, I’ll share a new link each week that is educational, accessible, and relevant to platform engineering from fellow IBMers1 in the wider IBM Community.
I am linking to my disclosure.