Clean Slate protocol

Posted by: Alex on June 30, 2014

The Clean Slate Protocol is a code and design practice that I’ve adopted/created for a few projects lately.

It may seem a simple idea, but it was only after watching Iron Man 3 and hearing the quote from Tony Stark in the iconic scene where all his previous Iron Men projects/tests are destroyed that it clicked:

You start with something pure. Something exciting. Then come the mistakes, the compromises. We create our own demons.

And if you haven’t seen the film, here’s a bad quality clip, found from some guy on YouTube:

More often than not, picking up old projects or tweaking existing systems and design patterns is where the clean slate protocol is needed most, we all know it, that old system that has hundreds of features or design patterns, over time different designers/developers and modern technologies have changed the way things are and even can be done.

We’re left with a scrapbook of a project, one that starts off in one style, and throughout just becomes samples of different ideas and styles, like some kind of trampish technicolor patchwork quilt.

I’m sure yourself, or any other developer/designer knows this situation – even from the very beginning, all too often the project can lose coherence, and inadequacies slip in, you may often think the PSD/initial complete design is the starting point, and the “clean slate”, but go beyond this, those initial ideas, those first imaginations in your head should be the “Clean Slate”, consider how the PSD/Design looks compared to those magical/dream worthy imaginations you had of the project at the beginning, let’s strive for those.

So what exactly is it? Simply, you start again.

You save the best features and favourite designs from the previous versions, but you re-build them, not just copy/paste them. This kind of thinking and process may seem drastic, but it comes to a certain point that you have to take the dive.
Ask yourself, does this project deserve to be better all the way throughout than it is currently? If you answered yes, then it’s time for clean slate protocol, if no, then you either have a well built project already, or you simply don’t care enough. And if you want to answer yes, but the people who make the decisions don’t allow it, then I feel for you! – It’s understandable, it’s all too often “too much effort” to do this kind of massive structure change, but consider this, how much harder is going to be to implement in x years time when this issue has compounded.