Charles Hooper

Thoughts and projects from a site reliability engineer

Code Responsibly: What’s Best for Your Clients?

We programmers have a natural affinity for writing and using our own code. You can’t really blame us; this is akin to gardeners who prefer to eat vegetables they grow, or brewers who prefer to drink their own beer. However, this oftentimes leads to a frequent re-invention of the wheel. While this isn’t always a bad thing, it doesn’t usually benefit our clients and here’s why:

  1. **Increased development time. **If a client is paying you hourly, why should they pay for you to re-invent a solution that already exists? Why write a new CMS if WordPress will do? When you write a new CMS from scratch for a client, you are increasing their development costs.
  2. **Freedom in hosting. **It’s no coincidence that many web developers also host their projects as well. This is fine for larger applications, but for the majority of the client work out there your clients should have the freedom to a broad range of hosting options. Vendor lock-in is a terrible thing.
  3. **Post-development support. **If a client needs customizations done to the code base, they should be able to solicit the work from almost any developer. Certainly you would want preference in these solicitations, but there shouldn’t be any clients who are stuck with you. When you use your own custom solution, you are increasing your clients’ maintenance costs.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever write new code. What I am saying is that your responsibility to the client is to use the best tools for the job and to put together the best solution for them that you can. Sometimes this means flexing your coding muscles and sometimes this means humbly setting up existing software such as WordPress. So please, write new code conservatively and responsibly.

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