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Featuritis, Creeping featurism or the spoonerism Feeping Creaturism, is a term used to describe software which over-emphasizes new features to the detriment of other design goals, such as simplicity, compactness, stability, or bug reduction.


  • Requests for specialized facilities and minor notational improvements are very common. When provided, they rarely fail to win applause. After all, if a feature is a direct solution to a problem and doesn’t significantly interact with other facilities, it is easy to explain, often easy to implement, and typically has a logically minimal expression leading to very concise pieces of code. People comparing languages using lists love such features. The snag is that the problems we face are essentially infinite, so we need an infinity of such specialized features.
  • The term "creeping featurism" was used in a 1976 Programmer's Workbench paper written by John Mashey, and in a talk by him first done in 1977, and later gave (as an ACM National Lecture) about 50-70 times through 1982. The original foils were scanned in 2002, and the phrase is used on Slide 033 within the talk. Mashey says "I can't recall if I actually coined this myself or heard it somewhere, but in any case, the phrase was certainly in public use by 1976."

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