We often look at vendors and standards for a way to improve productivity.  There is nothing wrong with this and it even is a best practice.  However, not everyone follows a standard entirely or even in the same way.  This situation can lead you to a wolf ticket antipattern.  In short, the product you choose is not what it seems.

Defining the Wolf Ticket AntiPattern

I find the origin of this anti-pattern name to be instrumental in defining it. [Click Here to See The Page]

“The term wolf ticket originates from popular slang. In slang, a wolf ticket is an unofficially
issued event pass (e.g. for a rock concert) that is sold by unscrupulous ticket scalpers.

An essential piece of this situation is the idea that there is a demand for a product.  This desire combines with a willingness to sell into that demand to give the wolf ticket antipattern.  While blame can be pointed at the “scalpers,” it is also the fault of those that are open to taking a shady route to their destination.  We see this often in the world of IT.  New technology becomes available, and then we all rush to find the tools to help us become productive with it.  There is a value in being leading edge, but risk as well.

Abstract Always

We often refer to abstraction as a way to avoid anti-patterns.  This case is no different.  We can reduce the risk of a wolf ticket by working with proven technology and stable standards.  However, that is not always feasible or even the best solution.  Instead of trying to avoid the new and shiny, we can insulate ourselves with good design.

Hedge Your Bet

While an abstract design is always a best practice, you can also improve your odds by avoiding vendor lock-in.  Keep an eye out for the less settled areas of a standard.  It seems like this is always an option.  You will have some portion of the new technology that is core.  These areas are handled the same by every vendor.  On the other hand, there are edge areas that are less settled.  Avoid getting into those areas as long as possible in hopes that the deviations calm down.

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences as well as a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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