To modify or not to modify Sitecore

I guess I have been around for a while when it comes to playing around with Sitecore. My first Sitecore site was an XSLT/VBScript based site - built in Sitecore 3 (which is btw. the first version of Sitecore if anyone should ask - previous versions were called Pentia CMS). Back then, Sitecore was not a beast you could customize - everything was pretty much a tree structure, fields, and XML - but overall the same conceptual architecture as it is today - at least when it comes to interface idea and data structure / model. There was no .Net - that first happened to Sitecore 4 (what a release!), and there was no Core database to play around with :-) It wasn't until Sitecore 4 where the early signs of potential customization and expandability appeared. It was still a hacky and manual process to change Sitecore. My first attempt was to build a Forms module. Then later a simple analytics module (a bit like the DMS - without all the fancy features)... I pleaded with Ole and Jakob for them to open Sitecore more up, and it eventually happened anyways with Sitecore 5 where Sitecore opened the flood gates, and things like pipelines, XAML etc. became everyday Sitecore options for the needy developer. The question is: Should you modify Sitecore? Should you add custom pipeline steps? should you build your own apps? data providers? etc. etc. The developer will most likely always answer Yes! - not because it makes business sense, or because it is the smartest or fastest solution, but because it is fun! Hell yeah, its fun building your own app in Sitecore and see it run along with the Content Editor! The architect or project manager will most likely question the need to modify Sitecore - it is often considered a last resort, and should be carefully weighed against alternatives. The business sponsor or site owner might not immediately understand the need, nor see the drawbacks... that is until the next major Sitecore upgrade project is being scoped out... THIS is where the potential price will have to be paid. All that nice customization can or will eventually be the victim of innovation - Sitecore doesn't care how fancy or how much code you put into that custom product management database with built in XAML / Sheerui interface and custom data providers and pipelines to the moon... Sitecore will do what it needs to do to make sure it can compete in the global market place against other innovators in the CMS space. So you have to ask yourself as a Site owner, or as an architect: How much are we willing to invest in maintaining your Sitecore customizations every time there is a major release of Sitecore? Is it worth it? I would assume your lifespan for the site is longer than 1-2 major releases of Sitecore - at least I know of a few Sitecore sites that have been on Sitecore 3 and 4, and will probably soon be the first to move to Sitecore 7...    
Categories: Web Development
Tags: Sitecore;