You may have noticed that the theme on my blog has changed. The theme I was using was a light version of a pro product, which I didn’t buy. I was looking at changing some small settings and discovered that the creator of the theme had stopped supporting it a few months ago.
Knowing that I’d probably have issues in the future, I decided to find a different theme. It had to work with the content I already had and look pleasing enough to me. I also didn’t want a v1.0 theme, because that gives me no assurance that the creator has any interest in updating it when future WordPress versions are released.
I realised that this same methodology is how I approach most pieces of software. Ideally it needs to have been around for a little while to prove they can deliver, and keep their product updated. It needs to have good support, either from the community or the creators. It needs to integrate well with existing systems, but also not cause you to be locked in to the product itself.
After working in I.T. for a while, I’ve found this is instinctively how I think. A big factor would be learning this from when things go wrong – from implementations, upgrades or changeovers and considering what decisions should have been made early on to prevent this.
This in itself causes issues, because how can a software solution get customers if everyone wants something that’s already proven? Companies will often take risks if option B is substantially cheaper than option A, or the vendor of the software have proven themselves with other solutions… but generally it’s safer to go with the proven solution.
Maybe this methodology is changing with the rapid release cycle we’re now seeing globally. It’ll probably cause more issues due to less testing time and more updates, which instinctively is the opposite of what we’ve all learnt to do in IT. This applies to the cloud too – you’re putting your faith in a 3rd party, but you have no visibility or control over changes. Without that visibility, how do you know everything of yours will work after the fact? Or will you be left trying to find another cloud vendor that works with your existing setup?
So yes, I have a new theme. It works, and it’s free. It’s newer than v1.0 so at least there’s some evidence that it will be maintained, but they may stop this at any time. I’m not giving them any money so I can’t complain, but it’s still the fundamental basis of my decision process. It’s luckily quite easy to change themes because of the well designed plug and play style of themes. This is what I expect from any software vendor (but rarely met), and anything beyond increases the risk of pain – it may not be now, but chances are it will come.