Reverse Engineering Is Awesome

I am not joking when I say that I’ve learnt more from reverse engineering than spending 4 years getting my software engineering degree. Please note, I don’t bash degrees but personally it added very little value in my life. Perhaps, it adds value in the lives of people who seek employment.

Reverse engineering is the simple science of looking at a product and deconstructing it to find the process and the individual units that were brought together to make it.

I think it’s a great process because you can pick up successful products, apps, websites, or anything else, tear them apart and learn the science of how they were built.

You can identify the tools that are used by studying the product and the public source code, and by using other 3rd party reverse engineering tools. You can also study each iteration using the wayback machine to see how it improved over-time. You can learn what was kept in every iteration and what was skipped eventually and why. You can sign up and use the app to study work-flow of each feature. You can study their marketing campaign by checking Facebook Ad Library now that Facebook has made all ads by each page public to be more transparent. And by the end of this entire experiment, you’ll have a pretty fair idea of how this product made it big.

This puts you in a great position to copy and re-construct a similar product and business model. I think more often than not, it’s foolish to try to be super innovative or experimental. Picasso said, and Steve Jobs quoted.

Good artists copy, Great artists steal

Pablo Picasso

So go ahead and learn from people and products that came before you, and then innovate on top of their ideas to the point that it becomes your own.