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Off the shelf or build from scratch?

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I’m about to work on a big project. I’m doing research into off the shelf products that may or may not do what I want. Here are quick pros vs. cons

OFF THE SHELF
pros – much of what you need might be built; there’s support for the product; save a lot of time; great short term

cons - may not be as flexible; takes time to learn how to reverse engineer; since open source platforms try to solve ALL business scenarios, you’re stuck with superfluous code and irrelevent modules, which results in one big bloated system that’s hard to maintain and scale

BUILD FROM SCRATCH

pros – you know exactly what it can or can’t do; solve only problems you need solved; design for immediate re-use with other projects you have on the go

cons – takes more time to build;

If your project is quite substantive with long term plans, and you have the skills to do programmatic wonders, then you will be biased towards Build from Scratch. It’s appealing to a developer to design his own products, and re-sell them on his next projects.

Whatever you end up deciding do invest A LOT of time in trying out existing tools. You may end up using them, or they may inspire you to build even better products!

Written by John Lai

July 20th, 2008 at 9:59 pm