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Ken Kocienda is a software engineer who, among other things, worked on “Project Purple”: Apple’s codename for the original iPhone. Ken writes about the process behind software creation at Apple—which he dubs "creative selection"—and how he thinks that process was a significant driver in how Apple came up with its world-class products.

Creative Selection

Creative Selection

by Ken Kocienda

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The Seven Essential Elements Of The Apple Development 
Approach

  • Inspiration: Thinking big ideas and imagining what might be possible
  • Collaboration: Working together well with other people.
  • Craft: Applying skill to achieve high-quality results and always striving to do better.
  • Diligence: Doing the necessary grunt work and never...

A Well Articulated Design Vision

In any complex effort, communicating a well-articulated vision for what you’re trying to do is the starting point for figuring out how to do it. And though coming up with such a vision is difficult, it’s unquestionably more difficult to complete the entire circuit, to come up with an idea, a plan...

Taste is developing a refined sense of judgment and finding the balance that produces a gratifying and integrated whole.

The small-scale justifications must contribute to a scheme larger than themselves. The design responsibility expands to balancing the many individual refined-like respons...

Killing The Creative Effort

Persist too long in making choices without justifying them, and an entire creative effort might wander aimlessly. The results might be the sum of wishy-washy half decisions. Developing the judgment to avoid this pitfall centers on the refined-like response, evaluating in an active way and finding...

KEN KOCIENDA

The appearance of a product should tell you what it is and how to use it. Objects should explain themselves.

Apple Stories: Safari

When developing Safari, the Apple team quickly ran into speed and performance issues. Steve mandated that the browser be fast, so one member of the team (Don) directed that they implement a set of automated tests that would launch the browser and have it load a bunch of web pages in succession an...

To make great work, one requires a combination of people and commitment. Creative selection and the seven essential elements were our most important product development ingredients, but it took committed people to breathe life into these concepts and transform them into a culture. The culture we ...

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