4 Legacy Code Management Tips

Legacy Code and Management Ideas

As most companies spend 55% of their budget on dealing with legacy code, that’s a big weight holding companies back in the past. If you’ve only got 45% of your budget for developing new initiatives, it’s going to be hard to be innovative and competitive. Legacy code sounds like a four-letter word for younger developers. It’s just a way of referring to code that is connected to products that are no longer being actively developed.

These products could have millions of users depending on them and could need to be maintained for the integrity of your company. Dealing with legacy products can upset the balance of old and new products from your company. In order to not be dragged down by legacy, follow these 4 code management tips.

1. Manageable Bites
Dealing with a legacy product can be like walking blindfolded into unknown territory. Some developers put it off until the very last minute because it’s so difficult to deal with. The longer you put it off, the harder it can be to take it on.

Start with a few bite-sized bug fixes. Don’t try to manage the whole code base at once. Hand it over to new hires who have fresh eyes and see if they can make heads or tails of it. Taking on small files will give you an understanding of how the developers worked to make this product function. Once you get into their head, you’ll be able to handle bigger issues later.

2. Don’t Assume The Worst
Most people will look at old code and assume that the person who developed it was from another planet. Developers look at legacy products as if they were made by someone who had no idea what they were doing. What’s more often the case is that new developers are lacking an understanding of how that previous team worked. It’s easy to talk down another person’s work but it doesn’t fix the problems.

Try not to make huge changes at first. Get to know how the code is intended to function. Rather than judge it and talk it down, find a way to understand what’s going on under the hood.

3. Communicate

3Si2 Legacy Code

While it’s not the case at every company, more developers are taking the initiative in having multiple people sign off on code before its approved. This means that there are multiple eyes making sense of something before its shipped. If this is or was the case at your company, perhaps one of your peers has feedback or an understanding of how the legacy product works. If they have seen the code before, they might be able to give you valuable feedback on your legacy system migration.

4. Use Reasonable Variable Names
Descriptive names can break down what each function does. If you finally decode what a function is meant to do, consider changing the variable name to something that is clearer.

Legacy Code Can Teach

Looking at legacy products can give you an idea of how your company worked in the past. You can see what things succeeded and where you’ve improved in recent years. Don’t cast aside the possibility that there is some interesting logic that got your legacy code up and running. If you’re ready to take the next step in developing this legacy code into a new product, contact us today for more tips.

T James :

Software Systems & Services

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