Embracing Simplicity: The Rule of Least Power

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When it comes to coding, sometimes less is more. This concept is encapsulated in The Rule of Least Power, a principle suggesting that for any given task, we should reach for the least powerful language or tool that gets the job done. This approach not only simplifies our work but can also enhance security and maintainability. Let’s dive into how applying this rule can lead to better coding practices, as demonstrated by my recent work on my pet project, Story2App.

A Practical Example: PostgreSQL Policies

In the development of Story2App, I had to implement data access rules that were both robust and secure. This is where PostgreSQL policies shined. I could define precise data access rules aligned with the application’s requirements by setting up these policies. Here are a couple of examples to show you what I mean:

CREATE POLICY "application_select"
  ON public.application
  TO authenticated
  USING (user_id = auth.uid());
CREATE POLICY "application_public_access"
  ON public.application
  TO authenticated, anon
  USING (is_public = 1);

These snippets of SQL code are deceptively simple, yet they pack a punch. They ensure that the rows of the application table are accessible only if certain conditions are met: either the user accessing the data is the one who created it or the is_public flag is set to 1, allowing everyone access. It’s a clear-cut way to enforce data access rules.

Confidence through Constraints

One of this method’s most compelling benefits is peace of mind. I’ve created a safety net by setting these policies at the database level. Even if my application code has bugs (and no code is 100% bug-free), these rules act as a fail-safe to prevent unauthorized data access. It’s a stark reminder that sometimes, the most powerful tool is the one that prevents us from doing the wrong thing.

Leveraging Tools for Best Practices

I’m all for using tools that nudge us toward best practices. In the case of Story2App, Supabase encouraged me to utilize PostgreSQL’s row-level security features. But this isn’t an isolated case. Modern frameworks like Remix, SvelteKit, and SolidStart are doing something similar by guiding developers towards using web standards for form state management.

These tools don’t just make our lives easier; they shape the way we think about and write code. They promote simplicity, security, and efficiency, which are hallmarks of good software.

KISS: Keep It Simple, Secure!

As developers, we have many tools and frameworks at our disposal. The Rule of Least Power reminds us that the most robust solutions don’t always have the most bells and whistles. By choosing the appropriate level of complexity for the task at hand, we can write code that is easier to manage and inherently more secure.

So, the next time you select a tool, language, or framework for your project, remember The Rule of Least Power. Embrace tools that guide you toward best practices, and you’ll find that your coding journey is smoother and leads to more robust and secure applications.

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