If your project was developed many years ago, you might be experiencing increasing maintenance costs, delays in introducing new features, and developers complaining about "code debt." This is a sign of dealing with old (or legacy) code. Without action, the support costs could eventually outweigh the benefits the system brings.

Legacy code problems

Legacy code itself is not a problem if the system is running smoothly. The challenge lies in finding developers who can maintain and support such code. This becomes increasingly difficult over time, especially for niche technologies. Hiring developers for such projects can be both time-consuming and costly, as specialists in rare technologies command higher fees.

Additionally, there's always a risk of technology obsolescence. For example, the once-popular Flash technology became obsolete. In 2012, Adobe announced that it would end support within 5-10 years, and at the end of 2020, support for the latest version was completely discontinued. Products reliant on Flash had to transition to other platforms or rebuild components from scratch.

Every product has a lifespan. Expecting a system to operate indefinitely without updates and support is unrealistic. Eventually, unsupported systems become outdated and unusable. Therefore, updating systems with legacy code is essential to ensure longevity and continued functionality.

Approaches to updating legacy code

Updating legacy code should be done with minimal disruption to the business, as the system is already operational and has active users. This means implementing gradual updates, component by component.

Alternatively, if gradual updates are not feasible, the priority is to keep the system operational while simultaneously developing a new version. Parallel development allows for a smooth transition of users to the new version in the future. It's crucial to address data migration concerns to ensure a seamless transition and prevent loss of information.

Once the new version is developed, both systems can be maintained concurrently for a while. This allows users to test and provide feedback on the new version. Based on this feedback, the new version can be refined, and all users can gradually migrate to the updated version.

To sum up

Once again – every product has a lifespan, and when a system accumulates significant legacy code over time, updating becomes necessary to ensure longevity and relevance. 

Updating can be achieved through gradual, component-by-component updates or by developing a new version in parallel. Both approaches help maintain the product, and introduce new technologies and standards while minimizing risks for the business.

If your system is facing similar challenges with legacy code – we offer you a free system audit with a detailed report and recommendations to resolve the issues.

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