You’re an experienced web developer. You know how to create fast loading, secure websites that function optimally despite the inevitable hacks and exploits out there. And you know the best way to stay safe is to create your own custom code solutions so hacking attempts don’t work in the first place. But do you need all of this knowledge?
The answer is yes, but not because there isn’t plenty of free information on how-to avoid writing custom code that makes your websites vulnerable. Rather, you need the knowledge to make wise decisions about what to do when you decide to write custom code for your website. Otherwise, you may create the very types of code that could hurt your website if it gets hacked.
But why would anyone write custom code?
Fomoco News says, it’s important to point out, first off, that custom code isn’t inherently bad. Some developers (and designers!) love programming and can’t imagine doing anything else. The fact that they find it enjoyable is a good thing; otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it. And there are times when writing custom web development code is actually necessary for getting a project done right.
However, it’s not just about the need for code. There are also issues of efficiency and cost. For instance, if you have a website that has minor technical problems here and there, custom code will almost always be more expensive to fix than other solutions. This is because you’ll have to hire a web developer to do it, rather than using an easy-to-install plugin or extension.
Here are some examples of issues that might prompt you to create custom code:
You need to develop a complicated interface for your site that can do something no existing plugin or extension can.
You need to create a complex form system that has advanced capabilities.
You’re setting up a site with lots of technical features. You want to use custom code where needed, but you also need to use outside plugins and extensions that don’t already have well-built code solutions for your website.
Your site is too old and out of date for any modern plugins and extensions to work right. This can be frustrating because you’ll have to use the same plugins and extensions, and in many cases they will not function well on older pages or sites. This situation is especially common for sites with large audiences, but it’s also true of many general-purpose sites.
Create a dynamic website
You want to create a dynamic website that has both custom and standard features. This is a common situation.
Your site is very technical and requires a large amount of custom code to run well. Or, you’re using enough custom code that it can’t be easily managed by an automated testing tool.
You’re not starting from scratch; you have an existing site with some customized code already in place, either as part of the original site development or as an expansion.
Now you’re probably wondering what to do if you discover that you need custom code on your website. The first step is to determine whether there are standard features that can be used already on the Internet. For example, if you need a complex interface, look at existing extensions and plugins for Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, ExpressionEngine, or similar content management systems.
Creating a customized solution
For example, it may be possible to create a similarly complex interface using pre-built standards for your CMS. This approach is usually more cost-effective than creating a customized solution from scratch. The trade-off is that your interface will not be exactly the same as it would be with custom code, but may still do what you need.
If there are no suitable standard features available, you can proceed with custom code. But don’t use reckless abandon. There are several things to look for when creating custom code for your website.
Use a framework
1) Look for easy-to-use development frameworks before writing code from scratch. If you choose to write everything yourself, it’s usually more expensive and risky than using a framework like Django (Python), Rails (Ruby), or Laravel (PHP).
However, if you choose to use a framework, make sure you know how it works. Using the wrong framework can result in your website being slower or having too many bugs to work properly. And this isn’t just about the code; it includes things like permissions, security, and installation.
Well-tested code libraries
2) Use well-tested code libraries. It’s not just about getting an application built that runs well, but also making sure the code is secure and reliable for other staff members to use later on. Also, expect that other people have used other custom solutions that have caused them problems with your services or other sites they may be working on.
3) Build what you need on your own. It’s best to let people on the Internet know what you need and don’t expect it to be easy, but realize that even if you have a good idea for a feature, it might be hard to build it properly.
The answer is almost always “use one or the other.” You can save time by using an existing plugin or extension when one isn’t available for your site. But otherwise, design your website so that all of your custom code is treated similarly in terms of cost and efficiency.