Code Dependent

Justin Williams writes about third-party dependencies:

As I’ve matured as a professional developer, I’ve learned to understand that a dependency and liability are many times interchangeable

He jokingly mentions how his stance will get him an invitation to the “old guy coders club,” of which I must be a long-time member (here’s proof). As current and former co-workers can attest, I’m notoriously cranky when it comes to third-party dependencies.

I wasn’t always this way, though. In my ill-spent youth I’d add third-party libraries to my projects without concern. It was a no-brainer at the time – they added so much power and snazziness with so little effort on my part.

It wasn’t until I created long-lived software like FeedDemon that I realized their downside. Components I relied upon would stop being upgraded, no longer be reliable, or simply disappear. They’d break when a new version of my OS (or even my development tool) was released. Their UI would change, affecting the UI of my software.

In some cases the pain was worth it, but more often than not it wasn’t. I spent far too much time rewriting, replacing, and rethinking third-party libraries I chose to rely on. In the long run, my software and my customers would’ve been better off if I’d been more conservative with those choices.

Don’t get me wrong – I certainly rely on third-party dependencies in the software I work on now, but I’m a lot more cautious about adding them than I used to be. I like to think of this as hard-earned wisdom rather than a sign of senility :)