How to Deal with Inherited Code

How to Deal with Inherited Code

As experienced programmers we would have undertaken several web development projects. It might be on any domain –WordPress, PHP Development or even mobile app development. Most times clients approach and hire developers for new projects. Developers and coders would have to sit with the client and discuss about the exact requirements and then proceed with the development. However, sometimes clients may also hire programmers to carry on with a prior project – be it for improvement or expansion. It could also be that the client may have been at odds with previous developers and wanted to reach out to a new developer. In such a scenario, programmers are handed a completed project – perfect or not perfect – and asked to continue with development for the aforementioned reasons. Having been used to executing web development projects from scratch, this sure might prove to be a serious nightmare for programmers. This is because of the fact that each coder has a unique style of coding and will most certainly differ from yours. One wrong deviation and the entire website could become buggy, to say the least.

We at HireIndianProgrammers, consist of teams of dedicated programmers and developers. Having gained significant experience from handling an array of web development services for more than a decade, we seek to give you insights on how to deal with inherited code from a prior project, through this blogpost.


Documentation is key

While being handed over a website or any mobile app project, programmers would do well to request for the documentation for the same. A programming expert would more than make do with just documentation.


Patience is a virtue

It is true and trust us, it will reward you hugely in the near future. There are no shortcuts. Clients hiring new developers would surely expect better results than earlier. So, programmers will have to commit time and efforts in going through the entire documentation, understand the code – including structures, naming conventions, CMS, syntax and so on, add/ modify your own documentation. This stage of reading (not glancing) and understanding is crucial as it will help you in understanding the website (or mobile app), thereby allowing you to accurately carry out updates. Programmers can also familiarise themselves with all the webpages in the website.


Look out for anomalies and fix them

The very task of going through the documentation will enable coders to spot anomalies such as unused Javascript libraries, complex API etc; Clients hiring fresh programmers will, in all probability, give the entire story of the software development cycle including the possible issues with earlier versions or developers. Also, whenever programmers are fixing unknown functionalities, it is simply a good practice to add comments on it. This would greatly aid the next developer.


Adapt and be consistent

While tackling inherited code, the main objective of programmers must be to deliver a readable project having longevity. The best way to accomplish this is for programmers to adapt themselves to the system and tweak their coding habits a bit. Adding your own methods will only complicate matters for the next web development team.


Dig deeper into the system

Clients hiring dedicated programmers trust that their new website would perform better than earlier on a sustainable basis. To deliver optimal results, programmers would have to dig deeper and get their hands on more relevant data such as the kind of devices end users are using. These kind of data will help developers anticipate possible failure scenarios in testing stage of software development.Coders can make use of any speed test and design responsiveness tools to check for performance issues.

Finally, apart from these, there are always other challenges associated with inherited code. It might be tighter deadlines or scope creep. Whatever it may be, programmers would do well to focus on the work at hand, make room for improvement, display a positive attitude rather than indulging in a futile blame game.

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