Our family got hit by the flu a couple of weeks ago. We crept into our beds, nibbling aspirins and squinting at the bleak winter sun and our hungry cat from beneath our blankets. To pass the time, I signed up for an audible.com account and got a teaser of Hemingway\u2019s \u201cA farewell to arms,\u201d which I feverishly started listening to. The beauty of the book strikes me \u2013 intricate, harsh, poetic \u2013 and after 30 minutes, I started thinking, \u201ccan software be like this?\u201dCan it have the same traits of beauty? Remember, I had a fever, but let\u2019s explore that thought for a minute or two.From time to time I have heard people say \u201cthat is a beautiful piece of software\u201d \u2013 and I instantly knew what they meant; it wasn\u2019t just the UI (or perhaps not the UI at all), it was something about the flow in the application, how you interact with it, the integrity of its functionality, the stubbornness it has when sticking to one domain or solving one problem. It\u2019s how the software opens your eyes and lets you solve your tasks in new and intuitive ways, without getting in the way.Can this \u201cbeauty\u201d of software be quantized or industrialized? Perhaps not, just as it is with other works of art, but I think there might be some common traits.Integrity - beautiful software solves one problem, and does it better than any other. It sticks to its ways. It doesn\u2019t stray away from its goal and flirt with other seductive functionality. Instead, it relentlessly stays true to its domain. Also, it stays true to its \u201ctone\u201d with the user. It might be a bit harsh in exposing its features, but it does so consistently, and doesn\u2019t apologize. Its consistent both when it shines and when it doesn\u2019t, and you\u2019ll know what to expect and what not to when exploring a new version or update.Usability \u2013 beautiful software teaches you the dance even though you are new to the music. It guides you through the tasks at hand in a clear way, minimizing risks for misunderstanding or misuse of its features. It foresees your needs at every step, nudging you in the right direction, keeping you away from the wrong features. It makes the obvious usage easy without removing the possibility for advanced users to harness its full potential. Heck, it might even look good!Innovation \u2013 beautiful software is not afraid to solve the problems at hand in new and amazing ways, even if they\u2019re totally different than what you might be used to (or maybe because of that). If you\u2019re a software aficionado, you know what I\u2019m talking about; this is when some feature or interaction in an application just says \u201cclick.\u201d You\u2019ve never seen the approach before, but once you see it you can\u2019t understand how you got along without it, and it makes you think about the domain with new eyes, seeing new opportunities (and threats) that you weren\u2019t aware of before.\u00a0Please note that none of these are strictly related to technology; the choice of scala or ruby or F# or cloud or mobile or NoSQL or whatever won\u2019t make an app beautiful (not in my eyes at least). Although I can definitely appreciate beautiful code or software architecture, it\u2019s not a required trait for beautiful software in the end-users\u2019 hands.A key requirement for creating a beautiful app is a true product vision, nurtured by its creator(s), the product owner, and the product team. This vision needs to engulf the whole product from day one, and can\u2019t be expressed in a backlog or as a user-story. It\u2019s a gut feeling and drive that has to be there, and it has to be allowed to thrive without being pushed back by processes and analysis. This can be a tough call to make for management; trust the vision of the product owner to navigate the product through the storm, even though some decisions or priorities might not be in line with what competitors are doing or users are asking for.Here comes an attempt to boil this down to some hands-on advice:Maintain, trust, and foster your product vision.Stick your chin out and don\u2019t be afraid to innovate.Love your users and invest in their interaction with your software.Maintain your integrity \u2013 fight for it and don\u2019t stray away from it.I\u2019ll give an example of mine. Many years ago, I did screenshots mainly by alt-print-screen and ms-paint. It worked fine and got the job done. Then someone showed me SnagIt, a tool for creating screenshots, and I was completely blown away. SnagIt added so many useful twists to screenshooting - I had never imagined how much better and fun it could be. And just when I thought I got it, I discovered more features that made my screenshots even more appealing (because that\u2019s what it\u2019s all about). Snag-it had (and still has) all the above: integrity, usability, and innovation.I\u2019ll end with another beautiful experience: Chet Baker and \u201cThat Old Feeling\u201d (opens on spotify) \u2013 which is just what I get when working with beautifully crafted software out there, hopefully made by you!P.S. Do you have a great example of \u201cbeautiful software\u201d? Please share in the comments below for us others to marvel at \u2013 thank you!