To Refactor or To Rewrite Legacy Codebase
Technology

To Refactor or To Rewrite Legacy Codebase

April 1, 2021

Statistics show that the battle against conventional software is real. 90% of IT decision-makers believe legacy tech keeps them back, according to a survey from Hitachi Consulting. Moreover, research from Vanson Bourne shows that 76% of those interviewed were in a situation in which vital data were not available because it was stuck in legacy systems.


Developers can either refactor or rewrite their code while attempting to tackle legacy applications. The key differences between those approaches will be defined in this article. This contrast helps you determine which option would be best to address your legacy issues.


What is refactoring software?


Refactoring is not the same as rewriting first and foremost. The refactoring of software enhances the structure without altering the system's external behavior.


The process of refactoring is typically minor iterative steps. You are left with a working system after every completed point. Refactoring is a simple way to boost the code's consistency and quality if you can't avoid using the old system.


This implies that refactoring changes the structure, but does not alter the purpose. Both end products perform the same tasks while the reconstructed one executes them more smoothly. Refactoring leads to simple, easy-to-keep codebase without discarding the legacy system.


Software refactoring benefits

  • (Typically) quick to start – Developers working on the code up to now can always refactor it. They know the code already and know what needs to be modified for better performance. Moreover, they don't generally need external permission to begin to reconstruct the code.
  • Suitable for all sorts of software architecture – It is possible, whether monolithic or modular, to rework various types of software.
  • More versatile – The issue is often mostly one aspect of the system. In this case, the developers can only pick segments to refactor. It is also more economical with this form of versatility.
  • You may not have to build two different coding bases while you are refactoring. This method lowers the cost of maintenance.

Software refactoring challenges

  • The problem doesn't always lie in the framework. Typically, the only option left would be to rewrite the code when the issue is functional.
  • Refactoring involves a great deal of know-how – refactoring needs to be distinct from developing from scratch. In this situation, the developers have several dynamic patterns and ambiguities to deal with.
  • Unit testing – for efficient refactoring, a reliable unit test suite is required. The process would become rather daunting without it. When preparing the refactoring job, make sure that testing is included in the program.

What does it mean to rewrite software code?


Rewriting software changes not only the system's structure but also its purpose. This requires programmers to create new code entirely.


Software rewriting advantages

  • A broad variety of choices – there are more available systems than the previous framework configuration when rewriting. It is possible to start all from scratch and introduce creative, groundbreaking solutions. For instance, rewriting could turn an old desktop app into a web-based platform.
  • Acquisition-friendly – Rewriting is a far better choice if people who built the legacy program are no longer there. The new software development team will have an easier time working on its own terms without dealing with chaotic code lines.
  • Rewriting helps to avert headaches and bugs that plague the legacy code. This method also enables you to prevent errors you have already seen in the old codebase by recreating it from scratch. Moreover, this is a chance to create a detailed user guide.

Software rewriting difficulties

  • Time-consuming – this could be the greatest drawback. It takes a lot of time to build new systems from scratch, and not all companies can make such a large investment to deal with legacy application issues.
  • You need to keep two codebases, both the legacy and new code, concurrently when running the rewrite project. This leads to more costs, which can be avoided if the current program is refactored.
  • Sadly a common hiccup of legacy software rewriting is that new software does not mean better software. The rewrite can be free of old problems, but it could also introduce new ones to the application.

Rewrite or refactor: making plans for your legacy system?


Refactoring legacy systems is like replacing the broken tiles of a bathroom floor. Rewriting is like renovating the entire bathroom.


This example illustrates one of the critical rules to consider. If the issues you are experiencing are minor, refactoring is a viable first option. But if the legacy system lacks desired features or is not compatible with modern technologies, it would be prudent to rewrite.


Sounds very straightforward so far? There are a few factors to take into consideration. Feel free to let me know how I could assist you in making an informed decision. [E-mail]

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