There’s one fact every developer hates to admit—legacy code maintenance. Whether you were part of the original project or have been delegated that role, maintaining legacy code comes with unique challenges (both with the code and internally). Most times, there are many expectations about what needs to be accomplished within a very short period of time, with some unrealistic resources allocated. But is it worth it to maintain legacy code?
In this post, we shall discuss why you should consider maintaining legacy code and the tips on how to maintain your legacy code.
But first, what is a legacy system? This is a system or code inherited from another person or an older version. This can also be a system you cannot understand, which is hard to change. A legacy system involves dealing with an old system or system that you didn’t create. This is something that’s inevitable—unless you are creating a project from scratch. With that said, let’s look at the top reasons you should maintain your legacy code.
Reasons to maintain legacy code
The first reason to maintain your legacy code is that it’s mission-critical. In other words, the system is so important that the company cannot function without it. This could be a system that manages inventory, processes orders, or even something as simple as keeping track of employee vacation days. Whatever the case may be, if the system is mission-critical, it needs to be maintained.
It’s too expensive to replace
Another reason to maintain your legacy code is that it would be too expensive to replace the system. This could be because the system is integrated with other systems or because there’s no budget to replace it. In some cases, the system may be so old that there’s no one left who knows how to replace it. Whatever the reason, if it’s too expensive to replace, then you need to maintain it.
There’s no time to replace it
You may want to replace the legacy code in some cases, but there’s simply no time to do so. This could be due to a looming deadline or because the company is in the middle of a major project. In any case, if there’s no time to replace the code, then you need to maintain it.
You need to add new features
Another reason to maintain your legacy code is that you need to add new features. This could be due to a change in the business or because the competition has added a new feature that you need to match. In any case, if you need to add new features, then you need to maintain your legacy code.
You need to fix bugs
Of course, one of the main reasons to maintain your legacy code is to fix bugs. This could be due to an error in the code or because the system is no longer compatible with newer software versions. In any case, if you need to fix bugs, then you need to maintain your legacy code.
Tips for maintaining your legacy code
So, now that we’ve looked at the top reasons to maintain your legacy code let’s look at some tips for doing so.
Create a roadmap
The first step is to create a roadmap for what you need to do. This should include a list of all the features you need to add and the bugs you need to fix in your legacy software. In addition, you should also have a timeline for when each task needs to be completed. This will help you keep on track and ensure that you don’t miss anything important.
Write unit tests
One of the most important things you can do when maintaining legacy code is to write unit tests. Unit tests are small tests that check for specific functionality in your code. This could be a test to check that a specific function works or that a certain value is returned. Unit tests are important because they help you catch bugs early on. In addition, they can also help you refactor your code, as you can be confident that the functionality you’re testing still works.
Refactor your code
Another important tip is to refactor your code. This means making changes to your code without changing its functionality. This could involve renaming variables, extracting functions, or even changing the structure of your code. Refactoring your code can make it easier to understand and maintain. In addition, it can also help you improve the performance of your code.
Use version control
Version control is a system that allows you to track the changes made to your code. This is important because you can revert to previous versions if something goes wrong. In addition, it also allows multiple people to work on the same codebase at the same time.
Test the code
Of course, you also need to test the code to ensure it still works. This could involve manual testing or using automated testing tools. Automated testing tools can be particularly helpful, as they can save you a lot of time. In addition, they can also help you catch bugs that you may have missed.
In conclusion, there are many reasons to maintain your legacy code. These include that it’s too expensive to replace or that you need to add new features. In any case, if you need to maintain your legacy code, then follow the tips above.