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?


If a framework is opinionated, it lock or guides you into their way of doing things.

For example: some people believe that a template system shouldn’t provide access to user defined methods and functions as it leaves the system open to returning raw HTML. So an opinionated framework developer only allows access to data structures. By design, the software is limiting and encourages the designer into doing things their way.

Another example (taken from the signals link) is that of wiki. The designers of wiki had a lot of opinions. They thought HTML was too complicated for people to write, so they came up with what they felt was a more natural way to update content. They also stripped it of fancy design because they felt the focus ought to be more on content than design.

Apple has strong opinions when it designs its products.

Un-opinionated software design is more like PERL/PHP. It allows the developer and trusts the developer to make the right decisions and puts more control in their hands.

I would also place Microsoft in the non-opinionated column. A good example of a Microsoft framework which is un-opininated: .NET. By opening the CLR and the specs, it opened it to all sorts of languages and styles of implementations.


I agree with altCognito. .NET encourages the developer to mix Model and View in WinForms apps by making it brain-dead easy to put business logic in methods generated by the button click event, for example. PDF to image conversion in .NET, http://www.iditect.com/tutorial/pdf-to-image/, convert pdf page to jpg image, make it smaller size to contain the same information in the image. In this way, Microsoft indirectly encourages short-sighted developers to lock their code in to their frameworks. A cleaner design would enforce or encourage better practices, like forcing the button click method to call a second function with Model logic, in a separate module. Not that clean design can’t be achieved in .NET, it’s just not encouraged by default.


If, nonetheless, the framework allows (either via straight disabling various other methods, or even by firmly encouraging it) just one means of performing that point (which holds true with Fubu MVC), you can point out that the choice has actually been actually taken due to the framework, hence creating the platform opinionated.

A bunch of individuals are actually referencing ASP.NET MVC as an “unopinionated” platform, as well as I only would like to turn up along with a number of notions on that particular.

Unopinionated software meanwhile creates couple of expectations. And also therefore, softwares/software development frameworks that are actually unopinionated commonly tend to possess a considerable amount of arrangement alternatives. A creator generally possesses to produce a ton of choices concerning several facets of the software application. Usually, different tools are cultivated thus concerning help make handling with these huge alternatives easier. e.g. Aesthetic Studio.NET for.NET, Eclipse IDE for Java etc. Unopinionated software application commonly takes longer to learn than opinionated software application.

In the open-source world you can easily locate many opinionated yet completing frameworks, so you still have a choice. You only must pick your own gold course.

If, for occasion, there are 5 (or more) different methods to submit kind information to a controller action (which is the scenario in ASP.NET MVC), the structure seems to be to become fairly “un-opinionated” – the decision is actually up to you!

Non-opinionated software, on the various other hand, leaves great deals of flexibility to the user (creator). You likewise possess to presume a lot a lot more concerning just how to provide a service and also second-rate creators may finish up along with poorer options than if they had actually purchased in to some opinionated software application. PERL is actually possibly the traditional instance of non-opinionated software.

Opinionated software program is actually developed and also designed as if it creates it effortless to perform traits in a certain means. It favors particular style patterns greater than others. While doing so it creates it hard to differ the type of software growth for which it was cultivated. One more means of placing it is that it favors “Event over arrangement”. i.e. The arrangement options are quite limited as the program supposes a number of the arrangement parts. When the presumptions are actually know, opinionated software typically is quicker to understand.

Opinionated platforms normally remove the trouble coming from programmer to redesign the tire or reassess the exact same concern once more and again and hence help pay attention to the genuine complication available.

This having said that doesn’t always suggest lock-in. It suggests that it might demand some additional effort to perform traits in a different way.

It holds true that ASP.NET MVC doesn’t mandate a lot of; you may make use of whatever perseverance answer you just like, be it Linq-to-SQL, ADO.NET Entities, NHibernate, etc

There once again, I carry out need to acknowledge that within those areas, the platform on its own is actually fully available to embracing whatever unit testing solution you wish, in addition to whatever addiction treatment as well as mocking platforms you would like to use, so I reckon that gives another example of versatility, also within the “bible bashing” of device testing, etc. that seems to become going on.

My ideal is a non-opinionated platform, yet one along with powerful events. I would certainly put ASP.NET MVC in this particular category. In reality all software is opinionated to some magnitude (though perhaps certainly not PERL). MVC has sturdy conventions in its own choice of style yet delivers lots of different methods to fix complications within those conventions. A few of those means might even break the model. Used properly, nevertheless, according to the conventions building in such a structure may be a genuine joy.

Opinionated structures offer a “gold road”, which is actually meant to be actually the greatest process for most people and most circumstances (in the eyes of the authors).

It’s essentially software program that functions the means its own writers assume it should function, as opposed to attempting to satisfy everyone. That suggests a bunch of folks will certainly not like it, but the ones that do will enjoy it.

It’s the amount of conventions executed in a framwork and the lot of selection that have been actually taken.

Neighboring ASP.NET MVC are actually a whole lot of self-assertive folks, which I find leads to a great deal of prejudiced tutorials which insist upon dealing with, e.g. device testing and also addiction treatment; I’m all for great testing and also splitting up of problems, however I do view that such topics are shoved down one’s neck a little, often ahead of dealing with more helpful essentials.

For balance’s purpose I will definitely provide a (instead opinionated) description that is more good to the opinionated technique (in comparison to a number of the various other responses).

Rails is most likely the approved example of an opinionated platform: you carry out traits their method, as well as whatever lies. You are actually in for some discomfort if you do not. However that’s ALRIGHT– if you do not would like to do points their way, you don’t intend to use Rails.

Less opinionated frameworks give a lot of different options and also leave it up to you to decide.

Opinionated software means that there is primarily one way (the best method ™) to perform traits and also making an effort to perform it in a different way will be actually frustrating as well as tough. Meanwhile, carrying out factors properly ™ can create it incredibly simple to develop with the software as the variety of decisions that you have to make is actually lowered and the ability of the software application designers to concentrate on creating the program job is actually enhanced. Opinionated software program may be terrific to use, if flourished, if your trouble maps onto the remedy beautifully. It may be a real ache to fix those aspect of your trouble that don’t map onto the resources delivered. An instance listed below would certainly be actually Dark red on Bed rails.

. On the flip edge, the MVC platform performs often tend to favour “custom over configuration”, to quote Phil Haack, which intensely suggests adhering to the pre-defined norm for finding controllers, views, models and other regulation. Although you can change this practices, it’s less complicated to go for a swim with the present, as well as for most individuals, there is actually no worry performing that.


The example you will see a lot at the moment is the ASP.NET MVC framework. It is amazingly extensible but that is its downfall in some respects, there isn’t any meat to it. Want to do data access? You’ll have to write that yourself. Want some AJAX going on? Ditto.

However, as it is highly extensible, if you build upon it you can turn it into an opinionated framework. This is what the likes of MVCContrib do, they give you specific methods of doing things which means you have to write less code.

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