How to Improve a Legacy Codebase

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Jacques Mattheij has written neat article on topic of improving legacy code. It happens to everybody - you get handed legacy code, quite often without proper documentation or hopelessly out of sync with what is presently keeping the company afloat. However it can be a lucrative business to be able to take such a code and to turn them into healthy maintainable projects.

Author suggests the most sensible approach is to work incrementally. Article pays attentions to importance of:

  • Backups, especially configuration data
  • Having build process and that it actually produces what runs in production
  • Writing the tests
  • Instrumentations and logging
  • Changing only one thing at the time
  • Using proxies between end-user and the old system
  • and more

In a situation like that author prefers total control and an iron clad process. Can not agree more.

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Tags programming agile code-refactoring