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I think you gotta have a good understanding of the domain and use cases you want to hit (which is really hard, especially so when it's a general purpose programming language whose domain is... everything), and design from the start with a vision of hitting those use cases, instead of having to shoe-horn them in later.

Of course, use cases will still evolve, and your initial understanding is always flawed, there's no magic bullet, designing general purpose software (or a language or platform!) meant to hit a wide swath of use cases flexibly is _hard_.

And then, yeah, like others have said, you need skilled, experienced, and strong leadership. You need someone (or a small group of people) who can say 'no' or 'not yet' or 'not like this' to features -- but also who can accurately assess what features _do_ need to be there to make the thing effective. And architects/designers who can design the lower levels of abstraction solidly to allow expected use cases to be built on top of them cleanly.

But yeah, no magic bullet, it's just _hard_.

As developer-consumers of software, we have to realize that _maturity_ is something to be valued, and a trade-off for immature but "clean" is not always the right trade-off -- and not to assume that the immature new shiny "clean" thing will _necessarily_ evolve to do everything you want and be able to stay that way. (On the other hand, just cause something is _old_ doesn't _always_ mean it's actually _mature_ or effective. Some old things do need to be put down). But resist "grass is always greener" evaluation that focuses on what you _don't_ like about the original thing (it's the pain points that come to our attention), forgetting to take into account what it is doing for you effectively.




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