“I’ve never had a problem with it.”

From time to time, when I’m discussing possible tools or techniques for a project with other developers, one of them will defend their choice by saying that they’ve never had a problem with it.

This immediately makes me sceptical. If you say you’ve never had a problem with something technical, it tells me one of two things. Either you’re lying, or you don’t have enough experience with it to be able to recommend it.

Pretty much every tool, every technique, every framework, every language, every best practice, has its pitfalls. It may work well in some situations but not in others. It may only work if you follow a strict set of protocols to the letter. It may have bugs or unintended consequences. It may not scale to meet your needs. It may deliver benefits that you don’t need at the expense of ones that you do. It may not even deliver the benefits it claims to deliver at all. In nearly every case there are multiple ways of getting it badly wrong. More often than not, you don’t discover what the pitfalls are until you’ve been using it for quite some time.

There’s no shame in admitting this. Problems with your approach aren’t necessarily a deal breaker. But if you’re recommending something to me, I want to know that you’ll be able to steer me through the problems and teach me how to avoid them, mitigate them, or recover from them. By saying that you’ve never had a problem with it, you’re telling me that you will not be able to do so. And that is a deal breaker.

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