Tangential comments about Software Development

Monday, May 26, 2014

No such thing as a cosmetic rewrite

At Property Hawk, we decided to do a cosmetic rewrite of the software that handles a landlord's tenancy data. Just to smarten it up. Have a permanent left-edge menu like Google Analytics. Introduce Bootstrap and Font Awesome.

I started looking through the code. Immediately I knew this was not a cosmetic rewrite. I had learned so much about JavaScript and jQuery since I wrote the system in 2011. Any piece of code could be improved enormously.

The rewrite is no longer cosmetic. Each module I look at I give myself permission to change thoroughly. If that brings in another module, so be it, I will change that. Lots of exploratory testing is needed, as I pull stuff around aggressively. Lots of feedback from my colleagues about what looks best. It's going well, I'm just not discussing the month in which it will go live.

Our users will see a cosmetic change, with all of the functions they're used to preserved and the odd new thing thrown in. But I will know that the JavaScript is better. That makes it a "cosmic" rewrite.