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Too much flexibility can be dangerous

One of my customers LOVES to ask for configuration options. Often when I ask “do you want that implemented as “a” or “b” he will reply “can you make it something we can change later?” It isn’t that he wants to make my job harder (although sometimes it feels that way.) The problem is that he understands their environment, and he knows change is likely.

But making everything “flexible” adds cost, not only in initial development, but also in testing and maintenance. It can even be dangerous. When options are infrequently used, it is easy to forget how they work. This can lead to unexpected settings that can break things.

A better approach is to be more thoughtful. Is this likely to change more than once? If so, then making it a configuration option makes sense. But if you are just trying to avoid a decision now, that is not a good reason to clutter up the configuration table.

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