Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Michael Bissell's Blog

Custom Tailored Crap

2010-10-23 14:24:05
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There's nothing better than a custom tailored suit. It doesn't pinch my belly when I bend over, the shoulders AND the waist fit, and I look damn good in it. Of course, I can buy slacks and a jacket off the rack for a lot less, but you can tell the difference.

Of course, if my belly gets bigger or my butt gets smaller, that tailored pair of trousers are either less flattering and less comfortable or completely unwearable. But then, unlike cheap, off the rack slacks, a good pair of trousers can be retailored without too much trouble, let it out a little here, take it in a little there, and I'm Mr. Fashionable again.

All it takes is some time at the tailors and a bit of money.

So, why is it that when it comes to web technology people expect "custom" to last for ever and never fail, even as people's companies and industries change (you know that's where this rant was going, right?)

Look, custom is good, if you have the ability to maintain it. Off the rack is good, if you don't mind replacing it sooner. It depends on what you need. Do you need to make changes all the time? Or, do you just need something quick and dirty that will get you to the end of the year?

Neither option is wrong, and there's a lot of middle ground between Penny's and Savile Row. But if you expect a bespoke tailor to hand you a perfect suit while you wait, and then expect him to keep making changes to it for months, years, or ad infinitum you'll be lucky to simply be asked to leave.

Unlike tailoring, business technologies are moving pretty fast. Often people don't know if they're getting "off the rack" or "custom" and a bigger problem is that the technology itself isn't that cut and dry. Programming languages come and go, coding styles fall in and out of fashion, and companies that provide tools rise and fall in a couple years.

To assume that because there's a brand name on it means it's "off the shelf" is folly. Something like, Wordpress, a simple, off the shelf blog tool, is being used as a complete content management system, and some people are really good at customizing Wordpress beyond recognition.

My point is that you, my non technical friend, cannot know what the right answer is because we, me and my technically savvy friends, don't know. Will this fit? Yeah, but you could gain 50 pounds by morning. Can I get it altered later? Define "later."

Having a flexible custom solution is good. But, so is having a personal tailor. On your Gullfstream. It solves the problems, but it ain't going to be cheap.

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