I hope this counts as an answerable question.
A publications database I'm migrating from another content management system to drupal, has different types of publications. In the current system those publications are kind of the equivalent of a taxonomy. It is clear from talking to people familiar with the history, and from looking at the state of the database and code, that every couple of years they rearrange things, adding or removing content types and changing the fields available. They used to try to dynamically change the fields available on the form depending on the content type. (peer-reviewed journal articles would have volume/Issue, pages, publication name, etc, where books would have different requirements, and online publications would be still different. This seems to have become very hard to maintain, so the current system now makes all fields available for all content types, and sometimes the same field is used for different types of data (total pages and page range for example). There are thousands of publications and sorting it all out programmatically seems quite difficult, so the thought is to bring everything over using the same fields (cleaning up the data where it can be done programmatically). Having differing fields per publication type is desirable, and in the future they would like to have an approvals process built into the system with differing approval paths per publication type.
Initially my approach was going to be much like theirs, to have one publications content type, and a publication type vocabulary to categorize them. Thinking of the need for future divergence of fields, and the likelihood of a requirement to change the display depending on the publication type, I've modified my approach to start with an identical content type per publication type to allow for things to change over time.
Is this going to cause terrible problems for me down the road if they decide that two types of report are now one publication type? I'm already seeing a little bit of difficulty in the ability to make dynamic templates that cover the entire set of publication types. It has been quite painful to move any changes made in one content type over to all the others.
Would it be more sensible to try the approach of having all the fields we need in one content type and trying to dynamically hide or show those fields depending on the publication type selected?
Is there some other more sensible way of going about this that I haven't thought of? It seems like somewhere along the line I'm going to run into pain either changing the fields or with changing publication types, I'm just not sure which kind of pain is likely to be better.