The Developer’s Condition: I’m better than you!

WhiteFish Creative Ltd
3 min readSep 25, 2023
I'm better than you, and everyone else!

In the vast realm of software development, there’s a peculiar phenomenon that often rears its head: the incessant need to “reinvent the wheel.” Developers, driven by a mix of ambition, curiosity, and sometimes sheer ego, often believe they can craft a better solution than what’s already out there. But is this always the right approach?

The Allure of “Doing It Better”

It’s not uncommon to witness developers challenging established systems, frameworks, and even encryption methods. From the myriad of JavaScript package managers, linters, tree shakers, to frameworks, the tech landscape is littered with tools birthed from the “I can do it better” mindset. I recall an interaction with a colleague who was adamant he could outdo Microsoft’s .NET team in encryption. Such audacity!

The Hidden Costs

While innovation is the lifeblood of technology, there’s a fine line between genuine improvement and unnecessary duplication. Rebuilding systems without a valid reason not only slows down delivery and deployment but also amplifies support requirements. Moreover, it introduces potential security vulnerabilities. The risks associated with untested, new solutions can be monumental.

Ego-Driven Development

At the heart of this phenomenon often lies a developer’s ego. The belief that one can outperform established, tested solutions can be intoxicating. However, for newcomers to the field, this presents a daunting challenge. With a plethora of options available, they often find themselves paralysed by choice, and no matter their pick, there’s always a critic ready to point out their “mistake.”

The Rare Benefits and Genuine Needs

While there are instances where innovation has led to groundbreaking solutions, these are the exceptions rather than the rule. More often than not, if an existing solution meets a significant portion of your requirements, it’s wiser to adopt and adapt rather than start from scratch. Apple’s recent deviation from the standard USB-C is a glaring example of tweaking something for branding rather than genuine improvement.

A Plea for Pragmatism

For developers caught in the throes of “innovation temptation,” the advice is simple: resist. Instead of trying to be the hero who crafts another “left-pad,” focus on enhancing and leveraging what’s already out there. After all, true innovation stands on the shoulders of giants, aiming to reach heights previously unattainable.

The Future: Standardisation or Chaos?

While one might hope for a future of standardisation around you’re new library, the reality should be more akin to LEGO-style building, where existing components are pieced together, and when there is a genuine need a new LEGO piece is made, or in this case a new library or solution. The key is to prioritise providing the best solution over ego-driven development. As developers, our primary goal should always be to deliver value, not just to showcase our prowess.

In the ever-evolving world of software development, it’s crucial to strike a balance between innovation and pragmatism. While the allure of creating something new and “better” can be tempting, it’s essential to evaluate the real-world implications of such decisions. After all, in the quest to stand out, one mustn’t lose sight of the ultimate goal: delivering robust, efficient, and secure solutions. So, the next time you’re tempted to reinvent the wheel, ask yourself: is it truly for the betterment of the tech world or just a bid to feed the ego? Choose wisely. And if you ever find yourself in a quandary, remember there are consultants out there (like me) who can guide you through these complex decisions with a dash of humour and a ton of expertise.

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WhiteFish Creative Ltd

James Studdart: Bespoke software solutions, in .Net, Flutter, Python, C#, JS, and designs. A popular podcast host. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesstuddart/