GitHub is the world’s largest software host, serving more than 11 million users with 29 million repositories. At New Relic’s FutureStack15 conference in San Francisco last month, Sam Lambert, the company’s director of systems, gave a presentation titled “Building New on Top of Old: The Argument for Simplicity” before a large audience of developers, IT experts, and technologists.

Sam explained that the software industry tends to gravitate toward complexity, with new solutions to old problems appearing daily. He told the crowd that the GitHub team tends to shy away from unnecessary complexity in the systems that it builds. He shared the three core tenants of GitHub’s systems philosophy, which all revolve around simplicity: “Above all else, GitHub is a UNIX shop. We create programs and tools that follow the basic principles of UNIX: simplicity, modularity, and composability,” he said. “We also believe that it’s easier to add complexity than it is to remove it…. [and] we’re excited by new tools, but we never use them just to use them. We experiment, but we will always prefer what is proven over what is new.” GitHub, Sam explained, is able to move fast without compromising stability precisely because it is built on top of stable, proven systems and services.

To hear Sam’s presentation in full, including his advice on how this philosophy of simplicity can help with software development and problem solving, watch the full FutureStack15 presentation below:

You can see all available FutureStack15 presentation videos, including the keynotes, at our FutureStack15 YouTube playlist. We’ll be adding more in the coming days and weeks, so subscribe now!


Photo: © Andrew Weeks Photography

Disclaimer: The views expressed in these presentations are those of the respective speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of New Relic. By providing access to these presentations, New Relic does not adopt, guarantee, approve or endorse the information, views or products discussed therein. The respective presentation speakers have given permission to New Relic to post the content they presented onstage.

David Gaule is an editor at New Relic. Prior to joining the company, he served as senior editor for Way back in the days of paper books, David held positions at HarperCollins Publishers and Little, Brown & Company. View posts by .

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