Rewrite or Refactor: When to Declare Technical Bankruptcy

Laura Thomson (Mozilla Corporation)
Location: D137
Average rating: ****.
(4.42, 12 ratings)

There comes a time in a project’s life when you have to make the decision: can this code be saved? Should we fix it, or declare technical bankruptcy and start again without technical debt?

Many a project has a raft of legacy code. We curse it every Monday morning when we sit down to look at it again, and every time we have to bolt new functionality on to old hacks, and every time we uncover a regression in half a million lines of code that didn’t have a unit test. The question is, at what point does it become better to spend the time and effort to rewrite all of it?

We’ll look at:

  • How to evaluate your existing code: how hard is it to maintain? to add new features? to test?
  • How you can undertake a major refactoring program
  • What are your options for replacement? Can you modify another product or do you need to start from scratch?
  • What are your options for a new start? Are there tools and frameworks that will make it easier and better?
  • Will a fresh start increase developer happiness?

Attendees should walk away with a plan of attack for fixing their legacy app.

Photo of Laura Thomson

Laura Thomson

Mozilla Corporation

Laura Thomson is a Senior Software Engineer at Mozilla Corporation on the web team, after spending much of the previous decade as a consultant and trainer on various Open Source technologies.

Laura is the co-author of “PHP and MySQL Web Development” and “MySQL Tutorial”. She is a veteran speaker at Open Source conferences world wide.

Comments on this page are now closed.


Picture of Ricardo Signes
Ricardo Signes
07/29/2010 8:19am PDT

The slides as uploaded seem to be really tiny. Or, rather, full-size pages with tiny slides on them. I also had to miss this talk, sadly. Is there any way we could get the slides in an easier to read/use format? If not, I have this zoom button…

Jeff Leverenz
07/26/2010 3:15pm PDT

Thanks, Laura! Wish I could have seen the presentation – congrats on a packed room.

Picture of Laura Thomson
Laura Thomson
07/25/2010 11:54pm PDT

I sent the slides in via email, but I’ve put them on Slideshare

Jeff Leverenz
07/25/2010 11:45pm PDT

+1, I’d love to see some material from this session. Slides, video, notes…

Picture of Dan McCombs
Dan McCombs
07/23/2010 12:50pm PDT

Missed this due to the capacity problem as well. I don’t see the slides posted on – could we at least get those for those of us who missed it?

Picture of Robert Cruz
Robert Cruz
07/23/2010 12:41pm PDT

Out of all of the sessions I missed, due to capacity issues, this is definitely the one I was most upset about.

Picture of Sherri Koehler
Sherri Koehler
07/22/2010 9:44am PDT

Very sorry to miss this! Room was full and many people turned away. Could have used a larger space for this session.

Rob Saul
07/22/2010 8:07am PDT

I wish the entire team I’m part of could have been in this session. Such relevant info

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