When to Adopt the Next Cool Technology?

What should be the criteria for an organization to decide when is it a good time to update its toolbox?

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the fatigue around JavaScript and frontend tools in general. Although it seems to be more painful on frontend the problem is not specific to frontend neither is it anything new or recent. There are two sides to this. One is the effect it has on one's personal development. Other side is how it affects organizations. More specifically how should an organization decide when is it a good time to bring in new tool/framework/language X?

When we recently discussed this topic my colleague Jordan Valdma came up with the following formula to decide when adoption makes sense:


new features + developer coolness > cost of adoption

Cost of Adoption

Introducing anything new means loss of efficiency until you have mastered it well enough. Following the model of Shu-Ha-Ri (follow-detach-fluent) it may be relatively easy to get to the first level - "following". However, it is only when moving to the next levels when one starts cashing in more of the potential value. That means looking beyond the specific feature set of the tool, searching for ways how to decouple oneself from it and employ it for something more principal. One of my favorite examples is using hexagonal architecture with Ruby on Rails.

New Features

By new features I mean the things that are actually valuable for your product. There are many aspects for any new thing that are hard to measure and are quite subjective. These should not go here. For example, "allows to write code that is more maintainable". This is very hard to prove and seems more like something that one may choose to believe or not. However, there are also things like "supports server-side rendering". If we know our product could take advantage of this then this is good objective reason for adoption.

Developer Coolness

I think when it comes to new/cool technologies it is always good to be pragmatic. In an organization that is heavily business/outcome oriented it may seem that there should be no room for non-rational arguments like how someone feels about some new language/library.

However, it is quite dangerous to completely ignore the attractiveness aspect of technology. There are two points to keep in mind. First, all good devs like to expand their skill set. Second, technologies that have certain coolness about them tend to build stronger communities around them hence have the potential of growing even more compelling features.