Twisted and tangled: Spaghetti code loses you a lot of money. It can be fixed, though!

Serengeti

Business

28.07.2020.

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What is spaghetti code?

It means unstructured and difficult-to-maintain source code. In other words, it’s a mess.

It looks like a bowl of spaghetti instead of the beauty that code can (and should) be. The term originated in the 1970s and appeared in a 1988 white paper called “A Spiral Model of Software Development and Enhancement,” which ended up leading to the waterfall method of development and project management. (Waterfall then got replaced by more agile approaches.)

Why does this happen?

There are lots of potential reasons. Some of the major ones include:

  • Unclear project requirements
  • Multiple teams have come in and worked on a project
  • A lack of programming style rules
  • Lack of ability on the part of those who have touched the code
  • Lack of experience
  • Too much control of legacy code from 3-4 senior developers who potentially haven’t learned new coding approaches in years
  • Some of those same senior developers leave the firm without clear guidelines and context being given about the code, so those who have to work on it make it more confusing

 Those are just some of the reasons.

In short: bad communication between developers, lack of expertise, and lack of style rules.

Why Spaghetti code is a problem?

Because your code is messy, it’s hard to work on, and your applications may not run properly for the end-user. You are costing yourself money. Maintenance is expensive. Bugs occur more often. Every upgrade, deployment, and connection with a third-party app becomes more complicated and more expensive. Downtime is longer, user experience is bad, and in general spaghetti code is one of the bigger problems your dev team can be facing.

How can you fix the spaghetti code problem?

We have talked a bit before about moving from legacy applications to more modern, cost-efficient applications. That is part of solving spaghetti code.

Heck, think about how you can eat spaghetti. If you twirl it on the fork, you need to (a) know how to do that and (b) be patient, as well as have the right tools (the fork, in that case). It’s the same with software development. You need knowledge (devs), you need to be patient, and you need tools (programs).

You could also cut the spaghetti into smaller pieces. That’s similar to a shift to microservices implementation.

Other ways to reduce spaghetti code:

  • Use lightweight frameworks: Many of these are available in 2020.
  • Unit test consistently: This will allow you to see where code might be getting tangled up like spaghetti.
  • Use additional layers: This can create complexity, but it also allows you to address single layers rather than the full scope of code.
  • Don’t rush: Developers need to focus on the best architecture for a given project and not rush the initial steps.
  • Hire for actual expertise: This is easier to do with outsourcing software development because you can bring in a team with quantified expertise who has worked on many different types of projects. Outsourced development teams have become adept over time at cleaning up source code.
  • “Measure twice, cut once:” This is the same advice you see in construction, but it applies to coding as well.
  • Force conversations: If a few senior developers “own” the code and they are not providing background and context for what they did with the code when it was first deployed, keep pressing them to talk more about how they wrote it, what they were thinking, what frameworks were in play, etc. Learn the origin story and it’s easier to untangle.

How Serengeti helps fix spaghetti code

We come in as an extension of your overall team and take audit of where everything stands with projects and your coding. If we need to work with the internal team to fix the spaghetti code, we will; it is one of the first things we will do. Bad architecture and code framework can doom the rest of a project down the line, so we will fix this for you if it’s a current problem. Our developers are some of the best in the world at this.

Any questions? Let us know. And for a guide to picking the right software development outsourcing partner:

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