Choose 'Boring' Technology for Long-Term Projects

Ever chased a tech trend, only to regret it a couple of years down the line? You're not alone. I've been building stuff on the web for...

Cristian Tabacitu
Cristian Tabacitu

Ever chased a tech trend, only to regret it a couple of years down the line? You're not alone.

I've been building stuff on the web for more than 15 years now, for myself and for others. I enjoy trying out tech as much as the next guy... but in one particular way... I behave differently than a lot of developers I know. Even senior devs and CTOs fall for the "shiny new tech" syndrome, as have I. But I recently realised... I'm cured. In client products... I choose boring tech. Here's why I recommend you do the same.

Yes, in the world of web development, shiny new tools come up every month and are very tempting. They promise to change the game but often end up adding complexity without much payoff. I'm not saying to not try them out in small projects. By all means, play around. But it’s high time we appreciate the value of good old reliable tech - especially in a professional setting. If you build stuff for a client or company... and their "edge " isn't that new tech specifically... I would recommend choosing boring tech, 9/10 times. Here's why.

Mistake A. Using Bleeding Edge Technology.

Let's be honest—new tech is exciting, but it can come with a lot of headaches. You might get cool features, but you also get bugs that no one knows how to fix yet, and maybe a forum or two with more questions than answers. You get changes so fast it's difficult to keep up, and maintaining a project with bleeding-edge tech... quickly becomes a nightmare.

My rule of thumb... if it's only been out for a few years... it's not ready for a long-term project. It might be cool to work on, but you'll regret choosing it in a few years. Few people fall for this, so let's move on to bigger problems.

Mistake B. Using Technology Because It's Cool.

Here is where a lot of people I know repeatedly make mistakes. Even senior devs see "the cool kids " using and promoting "cool tech ", so they want to use it too. And it's normal to feel FOMO! Just like that Instagram influencer is saying that $5k handbag changed her life... your favorite tech YouTuber is saying Tech X changed theirs... so you want it! NOW!

Look... I'm not saying not to use it - by all means, try it out in a sideproject - that would be closer to free. But be very careful in adopting that "cool tech " for client projects or your company. Because adopting the wrong tech can cost you, your company or your client a lot of money!

Before adding a "cool tech" to your stack, please answer these questions:

  1. Was this technology created for a project and team of your type and size? Or for much bigger projects and much bigger teams? A lot of times a technology becomes "popular" because it solves a small problem for a big company. It brings a lot of complexity to solve that problem, because it's worth it. If you're Netflix or Amazon or Facebook, you can add complexity to make everything run 10% faster, because that 10% faster will make you a lot more money. You have armies of developers and tons of capital - so you invent tools to make each devs a small cog in a big machine. You create overhead, because it keeps your line of production running smooth. One cog breaks, replace it. It makes perfect sense for Facebook! But it's most likely not worth it for your small-to-medium project.

  2. Will this technology be pretty much the same in 4-5 years? This is a nice rule of thumb, because it eliminates a lot of tech right off the bat. If it hasn't been around for 5 years... how can you know what it will be like in 5 more years?

  3. Do I want to use it because it's cool, or because it solves a pressing problem? Is it emotion or reason guiding you to use it? If you catch yourself rationalizing a tech, just because you want to try it... give yourself some space, and think twice. Remember, even the influencers you heard it from... might not use it everywhere. It might look like that... but it's not. Dev influencers have an incentive to cover a new technology as soon as possible - to be the first to do that. And sometimes they like it and promote the hell out of it. But most of them also have the luxury of not maintaining a long-term project. And if they do, they might have the budget for a complete rewrite in a few years. Do you?! Can you ask your client 3 years later to pay again for everything, because you no longer like that tech?! That's what I thought.

A few examples:

  • SPAs. Everybody and their mother was building SPAs for everything until 1-2 years ago. Sure, SPAs make perfect sense for Netflix... but for your website? Hell no. For your e-commerce? Hell no. For you 1-person team? Hell no. Fortunately, the trend is reversing. More people are now building SSR applications. Let's see how long that lasts.
  • JavaScript Frameworks. Even though everybody knows the JS ecosystem is toxic, and NPM is a demon spawn from hell (I'm paraphrasing from the creator of NodeJS himself)... for years everybody was using JS frameworks for every project. It was a sight to behold! Fortunately, that trend is reversing too. This is happening with light JS libraries like Alpine. Pfiew!
  • Microservices. Don't get me started. I've seen this fail so badly... and clients pay so much money. Keep in mind: because the client thinks they will be the next Netflix... does not mean they actually will. Stop optimizing for something that most likely will never happen! If you're building an MVP or v1... use the tools that a v1 would use, not a v10.

I've seen it time and time again: devs have chosen some of the above... taken 2x more time to deliver something... learnt from it, then left the project, leaving it for someone else to maintain. They've chosen what was good for them, instead of what was good for the project. They've chosen to learn a new technology, instead of using "boring" tech. Don't be that guy. Please!

Solution A-Z. Use Boring Technology.

The more boring it is... the better. An interesting indicator is... that people call it dead. In fact, the more years of people calling it "dead"... the better. Unless it's dead, of course. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • "PHP is dead."
  • "SSR is dead."
  • "Bootstrap is dead."
  • "jQuery is dead."
  • "Bitcoin is dead."

No they're not... they're just not as exciting to some people, because they're stable. Yes they have downsides... all tech has downsides. But... in boring tech, the downsides are predictible. That's a huge benefit!

By choosing "boring tech" you:

  • are kind to your client or employer, because you're getting them a bang for buck;
  • are kind to your future self, because it'll be just as easy in 5 years as it is now;
  • are kind to your current self; you choose to stay out of the toxic technology consumerism culture;

What Boring Technology Do I Use?

Your mileage may vary. Your preferences and experience too. I don't know what apps you build, but me... I build MVPs, v1s and sometimes v2s and v3s, that's it. When an team becomes bigger than 5+ devs... it's time for my agency to take it over, and fortunately... they also have the cash to spend for optimizations.

So 90% of the apps I build use:

  • PHP as the programming language;
  • Laravel as the framework;
  • Bootstrap as the front-end HTML, CSS & JS library;

Regarding interactions... I used to advocate for jQuery for a long time. And I still use it sometimes! But more often than not... I use vanilla JS instead... and if needed sprinkle in some AlpineJS + Livewire. They're not "boring tech" yet... but I have a feeling they will be.

So yes, I choose to add non-boring tech to my stack, but I practice good tech hygiene. Newer tech is never the base layer of the stack. I keep the newer tech separated. And I only adopt newer tech when it looks like it's becoming boring.

But hey - that's me. What do I know? I've just been doing this for the past 15 years.


Choosing the right tech stack is crucial, not just for getting your project off the ground but also for keeping it running smoothly years later. Using proven, stable technologies might seem boring. They are not as flashy as the latest tech, but they offer unbeatable reliability.

So, next time you’re picking the tech for a new project, remember that sometimes the best choice is the tried and true one. After all, in a world that’s always chasing the next big thing, there’s something to be said for sticking with what works.

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