I was recently interviewed by Scott and Andrea of Legacy Code Rocks. We had a really great conversation about software engineering and dealing with legacy code. It was really enjoyable. I think we hit on some important topics. There are a lot of good insights. It is worth taking a listen.
Removing The Stigma From Legacy Code
I really like what Scott and Andrea are doing with the podcast. Legacy Code can have this stigma associated with it. I have to admit I may have contributed to that stigma in the past. I think many of us have. It’s part of the arc of being a developer (listen to the podcast for more). Andrea and Scott are working really hard to get rid of that stigma, which is a great thing.
I think the fact that a piece of code survived long enough to become “someone else’s problem”, or for someone to refer to it as Legacy Code, implies that it has some value. If it had no value, it would have just been thrown out. We need to acknowledge that value. We also need to keep in mind the “retrospective prime directive” - everyone is doing the best they can with the knowledge and skills they have at the time.
We need to start looking at Legacy Code with less emotion and more of an objective lens. We have to acknowledge the reality that the current state of the code is what it is. It may not be designed the way we would do it today, given what we know now, but that is ok. Once we acknowledge that, then we can lean into the main strength of software, which is that it is malleable. We can examine it and prioritize what needs to be fixed or updated. Then we can start refactoring and reshaping the code to fit today’s needs.
Power of Community
As part of their effort to remove the stigma from Legacy Code, Scott and Andrea have built a whole community over at https://www.legacycode.rocks There is a Slack channel where you can talk to other like-minded people and trade advice. There is also a mastermind that gets together once a week over Zoom where you can ask questions and participate. I highly recommend checking both of those out.
Empathy in Tech
Andrea is also doing some related work over at https://empathyintech.com/ It is about acknowledging the human side of technology, both the humanity of the end-users and others impacted by technology but also the humanity of those working to create that technology. She’s got a website and a Discord channel and is working on a book. It is also worth checking out.