Choosing Software – What if you’re wrong?

During an onerous task today, I think I learnt a valuable lesson in choosing an appropriate software package. We’re moving from a Blosjom-based blog to a WordPress one. Now I’m happy with this change, seeing as this past year I’ve spent so much of my own time using WordPress. The issue we had was moving the content. WordPress supports importing from a lot of different blogging platforms. Blosjom is not directly supported, however WordPress does offer import from an RSS feed, so we were able to import the posts in the main.

However, the comments were unavailable in feed form. So it fell to me to sort this out, and after thinking through some options, the low volume of comments meant that the best way to do this was to just re-enter them into WordPress, and then edit the post dates for accuracy. This was straightforward, but took some times still.

And this was where I starting pondering. We used Blosjom for a year or so, and whilst it was the right choice for us at the time, did we consider what might happen if we wanted to migrate from it? A year on, it still doesn’t have a large user base (to be fair, being Java-based, it wasn’t likely to compete with the PHP/MySQL-style platforms, and being Java-based was one of our requirements at the time). Would we have chosen it if we had considered how easy it would be to leave it?

It happens all the time, with software, with websites, with hardware. Your requirements change, better competitors come along, brand new technology launches. In an ideal world you make your choice and stick with it, but sometimes you are wrong, and other times you are right  until a better thing comes along. Something worth bearing in mind as you chose in the first place is what might happen if you wish to leave. Do the competitors for your database of choice support conversion to their software? Can you import your e-mail contacts from the webmail you want to use into Yahoo Mail, should they suddenly become the bees knees? Is your forum software built on the same base as the majority of its competition, or is it using something obscure? Obviously it is hard to consider every variation, but migration away is well worth considering when you make a choice.

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