The Anti-IF Developer Path

Do you want to learn how to grow a software system by reducing its complexity over time? Do you want to develop software in a more sustainable and predictable way?

In software development, deadlines are more and more demanding. In order to deliver on time the changes requested by their clients, software developers often apply the "IF Strategy." By doing this, they increase the complexity of their software systems, create duplications and accumulate technical debt. Therefore, the next features to be developed will cost more and more. Changes will take an unpredictable amount of time to be made (the so called "never ending stories") or sometimes they even become impossible to be made. One IF at a time software development becomes unsustainable.

The Anti-If Developer Path is a selection of our training activities dedicated to developers who want to learn how, by replacing the "IF Strategy" with other design techniques, they can grow a software product capable of embracing change.

This training path is a series of seminars and workshops that enables software developers to learn a range of design techniques and patterns to deal with complexity, growth and change in an effective and sustainable way. By replacing the "IF strategy" with more effective design strategies you will be able to deliver your scheduled features on time.

Here you can find the next sessions of this path:

Become the Software Designer you want to be

About this path

The Anti-IF Developer Path is the ideal training roadmap for software developers who want to significantly improve their design skills and change their perspective on how they conceive emergent design.

When it comes up to deadlines, you will learn not to rush but to stop, think and find a suitable design solution, getting help from the current design of your software system.

Taken along with your team, this path will grant all its participants to line upwards your design knowledge. You team will be able to define a "no-shortcut" shared design strategy to be applied under demanding deadlines to avoid accumulating technical debt and deliver on time.

What is the "IF Strategy"?

Let's consider a real case. Our company runs an online store software system.

We are settled in Germany and sell physical and digital products of various types all over the world.

The tax to be calculated on this kind of sales is called value-added tax (VAT) in Europe. We must calculate it and show it on our invoices.


What is a Value-Added Tax (VAT)? A value-added tax (VAT) is a consumption tax placed on a product whenever value is added at each stage of the supply chain, from production to the point of sale. The amount of VAT that the user pays is on the cost of the product, less any of the costs of materials used in the product that have already been taxed.

Let's imagine we have to develop the software feature that chooses and applies the VAT rule correctly.

Customer: "The choice of the VAT rule to be applied depends on various factors. If the product sold is a physical product, a specific rule is to be applied. If it is a digital product, another rule is to be applied."

Developer: "Let's put an IF to deal with the physical products and another IF to deal with the digital ones. Simple and effective!"

Customer: "If the country where the product is purchased belongs to the European Union and the customer is an individual, a certain rule is applied: the "German VAT rule."

Developer: "I'll have to add more IFs. Bummer!

Customer: I'm not done... If the customer is a business registered in Europe, a special rule called Reverse Charge is applied..."

Developer: "I see..."

Customer: "Whereas, if the customer is a business but not registered in the European Union.... Well, another rule named VAT Exempt should be applied."

Developer: "More IFs... aaargh"

Customer: "I'm not done... It's obviously not that simple!

Developer: ", I wonder how many more IFs I will need to do this feature"

Customer: "If you sell a digital product and if the customer is an individual... but only if they live in a European Union country... well, a different rule called MOSS must be applied."

Developer: "Nested IFs... Double bummer!"

Customer: "Maybe one day a country will leave the EU. Could you also consider this?"

Developer: "Nooooo it can't happen."


Customer: "Maybe one day a product that is not considered digital becomes so? Could you also consider this?"

Developer: "Noooooooo it can't happen..."

(Online courses are now considered digital products together with audio books, and mp3)

How many more IF statements do you want to add before taking the Anti-IF Developer Path?!


"Let's add an IF" is the most widely chosen "design strategy" used by developers to manage complexity, growth and change. It is simple and immediate. But It is also the most damaging one.

One IF after another, your software becomes a dangerous code monster: an intricate mass of interdependent lines of code impossible to test, read or modify.


As a result of this path, you will be able to:

  • Get rid of bad IFs. You will be able to identify dangerous IFs (those that are used when you apply the "IF strategy" and cause a system to degenerate into a Code Monster) from physiological IFs. You will also learn how to transform those dangerous IFs into good code by incrementally implementing new user stories.
  • See and recognize the flow of design dependencies and be able to organize them in a conscious way, fearlessly and without rush.
  • Identify effective solutions without running the risk of over design. A dangerous IF can be eliminated in many different ways. Not all of them are able to reduce complexity.
  • Grow software incrementally while maintaining maximum quality and delivering the highest possible number of functionalities.

Related Activities

We recommend that you combine this training path with:

Type Activity Note
Mentoring Software Production Mentoring You & Me If you want to apply what you have learned to your individual or team real context and needs.
Event Software Production Q&A
Event Let's Study Together

About the Trainer

Francesco Cirillo

Francesco Cirillo has worked at the forefront of the software industry for more than 30 years. In a career spanning startups, corporations and freelance consulting, he has mentored thousands of professionals, developers, managers and software teams.

In the 1990s he worked as a Senior Consultant and Mentor for Sun Microsystem, expert in Software Architectures and Software Development Processes and Java and Object-Oriented Evangelist.

Francesco is one of the pioneers of Agile Methods. He started working on XP and TDD in 1999. He was chosen by Kent Beck to develop the XP community in Europe and as reviewer of the second edition of the book Extreme Programming Explained. In 2000 he created XPLabs, the first company in Europe to offer comprehensive services on XP: software development, training and consulting.

In 2007 he created the Anti-IF Campaign to raise awareness in the international community of software developers to apply good design principles to grow software in a sustainable way.

Since 2008 Francesco stopped actively working on Agile Methods and started to develop RRP, a new method of software development. In 2013 he created Cirillo Consulting based in Berlin to offer professional training and consulting on productivity and software development.

Francesco invented the Pomodoro® Technique, a renowned time-management method used by millions of people all over the world, while being a university student looking for a way to get more done in less time.

Read the Francesco Cirillo's complete profile.

Upcoming sessions

Here are upcoming course sessions and events related to this Learning Path

Can't make it on any of our dates?

We can discuss other options with you


Ann Wilson
Ann Wilson

Special Education Teacher, Washington DC Public Schools

If you struggle with time, and with being organized around time, this is the course for you! It will require an investment of time, of leaving yourself open to new ideas, or trying on new habits, but the reward will change your life!

Useful Resources

Pomodoro® Web App

The Pomodoro® Timer Web App will be your time tutor and help you stay focused so you can get more...

Pomodoro® Sheets

To help you get started, check out the official templates of the Pomodoro Technique that you can download and print....

Pomodoro® Training Programme

Interruptions and procrastination are one of the most dangerous productivity killers. How to deal with the Predator while we're working...


Yes. At the end of the course, participants are given a link with passwords with which they can access your session for one week.

Do you have a question not listed here?

Pomodoro® Web App

The Pomodoro® Timer Web App will be your time tutor and help you stay focused so you can get more...

Pomodoro® Sheets

To help you get started, check out the official templates of the Pomodoro Technique that you can download and print....

Pomodoro® Training Programme

Interruptions and procrastination are one of the most dangerous productivity killers. How to deal with the Predator while we're working...