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Monday, August 28, 2017

Skip the Tricky Bits When You Can

Someone asked me for an OID today.  I have an OID root (or seven), and needed to assign a new OID in one space to represent a particular namespace.  The details aren't important.

I considered several choices.  One of them was someoid.0 and the other was someoid.2 (since someoid.1 was already assigned).  While if I had been assigning these OIDs in a meaningful order it would have made sense to make this OID appear before what I was already using someoid.1, I chose to assign it to someoid.2 instead, even though someoid.0 is perfectly legal.

Why?  Because not everyone understands that an OID can contain a singular 0 digit in one of it's positions.  And choosing an OID that some might argue with is just going to create a headache for me later where I'm going to have to explain the rules about OIDs to them.  I can avoid that by simply choosing a different OID.  Not only have I avoided a future support call, but I've also avoided a potential issue where someone else's incorrect interpretation of a standard could cause me or my customers problems somewhere down the line.

It would be nice if standards skipped the tricky bits, but we know they don't.  So, when you have a choice, think about your end-user's experience, and keep it simple.  Not every decision you make will let you do that, but for those that do, simply make it a point to think about it.  You'll be glad you did.

   Keith

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