How to Build a Compounding Codebase

by Timo Moilanen

Many software products and frameworks we use daily were created by small teams. Why do some teams achieve more than others? How can engineers stay happy and productive as the project matures? The answer is to build a compounding codebase, and this post explains what you need to do to make your code compound.

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”

― Albert Einstein

The definition of a compounding codebase is that development should become easier, not harder, as your project matures. How does this happen? The short answer is through constant iteration and obsessing over clarity. In practice, it boils down to these principles:

What great software looks like

Data structures should align with the problem you are solving

Naming things is your most important documentation

Reduce the next developer’s cognitive load

The process of building great software