Deprecating despair in a ghetto of code

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It was easily the geekiest Boulder Startup Week event but one that can have the biggest impact on the long-term success of a tech startup: Fixing code held together with duct tape, half-chewed gum and a can of Old Style.

Trada engineers Michael Lavrisha and Eoin Coffey led a discussion that was part motivational support group for developers and living, breathing O’Reilly guide on how to untangle long neglected code.

The big take-away from Coffey: Think about implementing step-wise improvements to your dev culture and processes that help the bottom line.

“It’s sometimes hard to justify changes in a business that don’t directly impact it yet,” said Coffey. He suggests working around the internal resistance by outlining how the code repair can be implemented alongside the sprints and iterations.

So how to convince your lovely product owner to go along with the plan?

Coffey suggests deploying a robust plan of automated acceptance tests and well-developed user stories co-developed with the business folk to ensure the whole team is in sync for maintaining the rickety code. That means using lightweight tools and collecting retrospective feedback that the process is working as planned and pivoting as needed.

He gives a big thumbs up to Git version control, GitHub and the app monitoring tool, New Relic as tools for getting the job done quickly and efficiently with minimal setup.

In a recent project, Coffey was able to convince management that improving creaky, old code would increase app speed, in turn making customers more engaged and happy with the product. Win!