In developing and maintaining applications, there’s really no such thing as stability. Up around the next bend in the river, you’ll encounter another new technique or new programming language that you’ll need to assimilate. Technology will continually evolve: many technologies that were bleeding edge only a few years ago have been entirely eclipsed today.
With the continual rapid pace of technological change, you’ll be left in the dust unless you continually update and modernize your applications. This is critical—not only in remaining responsive to existing customers—but also for attracting new customers. This is true not just for software vendors, but also for enterprises with both external and internally focused apps.
Getting into a good rhythm of updating and modernizing your software is much like learning to fish well: you’ve got to adopt the correct mindset, acquire the right knowledge, purchase the right tools, and use them with skill. And it’s accelerating technological change leading to accelerating technical debt that means you need to learn to fish.
As your app moves into the future, the technologies on which it’s built will become progressively outmoded. At some point, if you already haven’t done so, you’ll be asking: What is the best way to deal with the accelerating technical debt in my application? At Morphis, we’re always seeking the best answers to this question. The only truly effective remedy is to establish a continuous program of app refactoring and modernization. Here in this article, we consider various tools and approaches that you will need in achieving this goal.
To have a chance for success in modernizing your apps, it’s essential to consider the benefits of refactoring. There are some automated code refactoring tools available, yet most are better suited to newer applications, lack programming language flexibility, and aren’t especially useful for legacy applications. CodeClimate is one such tool, with particular strengths in automated test-driven refactoring.
Kuscos is the Morphis toolset for upfront analysis and refactoring of your legacy app code. This solution offers comprehensive source code mining intelligence—for use with many languages—in a single tool. With Kuscos, you can analyze code in detail and dynamically determine code relationships and structures. With these insights, managers can more readily understand complex source code. In turn, this clear, comprehensive understanding will lead to better refactoring of legacy code.
Is Open Source a Good Option?
Often, the push to build software rapidly leads to use of popular open source code. It’s there for the taking: readily available, usually free and some type of vetting has been applied in established online communities. However, lack of documentation about the types and versions of open source code put into the software can leave corporate security teams in the dark as they attempt to perform vulnerability assessments.
Another problem often occurs in enterprise development. After integrating it into the apps, there’s a good chance that it won’t be updated to fix vulnerabilities when they are discovered in the future.
To make it worse, cyber attackers are quite aware of weak open source code that is available on public repositories. They learn which code is especially vulnerable, and then they wait to see who is working on what projects so that they can get insight into systems that are likely to be weakened by the integration of bad code.
Low-Code Development Tools
Forrester defines low-code development as “rapid application delivery with a minimum of hand coding”. Low-code development platforms therefore enable faster application delivery as well as the ability to react quicker to changing market demands and accelerating technical debt. Usage of low-code platforms is gaining momentum for new applications, but what about legacy?
Appian is a popular low-code development vendor, and their tools center around a stateless business process management (BPM) paradigm. Developers use the Appian toolset to build new stateless web applications typically utilizing a REST API architecture. Such apps feature simple user interactions and are often more adaptable for cloud deployment. But this approach is only feasible for new app development as most legacy systems are heavily dependent upon intensive user interaction to maintain state in the system.
At Morphis we also provide low-code development frameworks for the ongoing maintenance and enhancement of any apps that we modernize. Our Foundations product provides a variety of architectural paradigms to cope with both state-dependent and stateless scenarios, and our Frames product provides a framework for designing UI components and building web pages that are usable in either state-dependent or stateless interaction scenarios. By contrast, Appian doesn’t include legacy app transformation in its purview, so it’s often unsuitable for such efforts.
Welcome to Morphis. Not only will we teach you to fish (refactoring through Kuscos, ongoing low-code development and modernization through Frames and Foundations), we invite you to join us on the journey toward 100% automation of legacy app modernization.
We’ll continue with this theme in future posts. If you’re ready to start learning now, please contact us for more details.