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Opinionated Software

Kai Lovel
Kai Lovel
4 min read

Software is made for its users (or at least it should be). And different users will have different use cases, workflows and approaches to how they use your software.

It's up to you to decide how much flexibility the user will have. Do you define one simple usage pathway and enforce ever user (with their aforementioned differences) to go down it?

This concept, which I call the "scale of software opinionation", is an interesting one.

Take Microsoft Excel. You get given a grid of cells, a bunch of formatting options, some data tools and you're off. You can do a lot.

A database? Sure.
A footy scoreboard? Sure.
A complex financial projection? Sure.
A short novel, row by row? Sure ...

You get the point. Microsoft is an interesting example - a lot of their software is relatively un-opinionated.

Once upon a time, a lot of software was like that. Enterprise tools were a one-size-fits-all beast of flexibility and options for use.

Nowadays, I'm seeing more opinionated software; where the software shapes a person's workflow rather than the workflow shaping the software.

Take Microsoft again. They develop Azure DevOps and release it in 2005. Among other things, its primary focus is tracking features/bugs and managing version control.

There are a multitude of ways you can configure it so that it fits into your workflow - which can be overwhelming for teams that don't yet have a workflow.



A new issue tracking tool for software teams; with an opinion on how you should use it. It's based on their team's "Practices for Building" and details their own software development methods which have informed how they built the software.

Linear Method - Practices for Building
At Linear we believe software can feel magical. Quality of software is driven by both the talent of its creators and how they feel while they’re crafting it. To bring back the right focus, these are the foundational and evolving ideas Linear is built on.

Twist another example of opinionated software. "Twist is async messaging for teams burned out by real-time, all-the-time communication and ready for a new way of working together."

They write about the async methodology, and call out (less opinionated) software like Slack in the process.

Why async? Discover a better way to work together | Twist
The real-time, all-the-time way we now work ends in one place: burnout. But we can choose another path.


An extremely opinionated platform that helps you get stuff done. A stripped down to-do list without the complications of tags, priorities, colour coding and sub tasks of other task management tools.

They've also largely stopped developing new features (if it ain't broke, don't fix it) - instead focusing on creating a sustainable business model.

A simple to-do app so you can focus on what matters. One day at a time.

Sometimes you need the flexibility of a spreadsheet to get the job done. But most of the time, a software with a defined path of use, a methodology behind it - an opinion - will be the easiest to learn, adopt and use.

Especially when you're starting out.  

If you're curious about this topic, others have written more on it:

The Rise of Opinionated Software
One thing I learned in searching out the current products people are hiring to do their Jobs To Be Done is that the majority of individual…
From a software/product guy's perspective
What is opinionated software?
I often see people saying that certain software is “very opinionated” or that Microsoft tends to write “un-opinionated” frameworks. What does this actually mean?
From developers' perspectives
Make Opinionated Software | Getting Real
From a software company's perspective