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Search - "legacy systems"
Before an interview prepare a list of questions for them, they expect it!
My list to give inspiration:
Describe your company culture? - if the response is buzzword heavy, avoid.
What’s the oldest technology still in use? - all companies have legacy systems but some are worse than others
Describe your agile process? - a few companies I’ve interviewed with said they are agile but it’s actually kanban
Are developers involved with customers?- if they trust you to talk to customers you can infer trust to do your job ( I’m sure others will disagree)
Describe your development environment?- do they have such a thing as dev, test and prod?
These are the only ones I can remember but should give others a bit of inspiration I hope 😄9
People complaining "oh I always have trouble figuring out if the clock goes forwards or backwards in October"
Bitch please, I'm dealing with 12 databases, with SQL dates as local timezone timestamps, and an influxDB in UTC. I'm dealing with a backend server configured in CEST and a middleware layer configured in Pacific time, and a hundred functions which try to keep everything straight because no one dares to migrate it all to UTC at this point.
In the whole argument about DST you hear about sleep psychology, electricity bills and farmers.
But what about me, the poor database administrator? What about all these ugly legacy systems, what about all the UX designers trying to fix time input pickers?
I spend 2 months a year in agony having nightmares of rips and folds in the flow of time. DAYLIGHT SAVING DOESN'T FUCKING MAKE SENSE HOW CAN TIME EXIST TWICE?19
Still trying to get good.
The requirements are forever shifting, and so do the applied paradigms.
I think the first layer is learning about each paradigm.
You learn 5-10 languages/technologies, get a feeling for procedural/functional/OOP programming. You mess around with some electronics engineering, write a bit of assembly. You write an ugly GTK program, an Android todo app, check how OpenGL works. You learn about relational models, about graph databases, time series storage and key value caches. You learn about networking and protocols. You void the warranty of all the devices in your house at some point. You develop preferences for languages and systems. For certain periods of time, you even become an insufferable fanboy who claims that all databases should be replaced by MongoDB, or all applications should be written in C# -- no exceptions in your mind are possible, because you found the Perfect Thing. Temporarily.
Eventually, you get to the second layer: Instead of being a champion for a single cause, you start to see patterns of applicability.
You might have grown to prefer serverless microservice architectures driven by pub/sub event busses, but realize that some MVC framework is probably more suitable for a 5-employee company. You realize that development is not just about picking the best language and best architecture -- It's about pros and cons for every situation. You start to value consistency over hard rules. You realize that even respected books about computer science can sometimes contain lies -- or represent solutions which are only applicable to "spherical cows in a vacuum".
Then you get to the third layer: Which is about orchestrating migrations between paradigms without creating a bigger mess.
Your company started with a tiny MVC webshop written in PHP. There are now 300 employees and a few million lines of code, the framework more often gets in the way than it helps, the database is terribly strained. Big rewrite? Gradual refactor? Introduce new languages within the company or stick with what people know? Educate people about paradigms which might be more suitable, but which will feel unfamiliar? What leads to a better product, someone who is experienced with PHP, or someone just learning to use Typescript?
All that theoretical knowledge about superior paradigms won't help you now -- No clean slates! You have to build a skyscraper city to replace a swamp village while keeping the economy running, together with builders who have no clue what concrete even looks like. You might think "I'll throw my superior engineering against this, no harm done if it doesn't stick", but 9 out of 10 times that will just end in a mix of concrete rubble, corpses and mud.
I think I'm somewhere between 2 and 3.
I think I have most of the important knowledge about a wide array of languages, technologies and architectures.
I think I know how to come to a conclusion about what to use in which scenario -- most of the time.
But dealing with a giant legacy mess, transforming things into something better, without creating an ugly amalgamation of old and new systems blended together into an even bigger abomination? Nah, I don't think I'm fully there yet.8
When I joined my team in august as a junior/trainee, we were 6 developers.
Now we are 4 left in the team.
By the end of june, we are 1.. I mean its me, myself and I.
Wtf did I do!? My code isnt that spaghetti. I think...
But its np, just me with a 20 years old database, 7 legacy systems and a new one planned.
Atleast my boss believes in me keeping this shit floating.11
Some of the dinosaurs maintaining legacy systems are rather well meaning, but somewhat frustratingly don't seem to have updated their knowledge of what counts as "a lot of storage space" beyond the early 90's. Just asked one of them if they could dump all the legacy logs to AWS each day so we could keep them for 6 months or so (they're rolled over weekly otherwise.)
"Well I mean we can, but are you sure? *All* the logs? You could end up storing close to 100MB of logs a month! Won't that be prohibitively expensive?!"
It's rather cute really.11
Another non programming related rant although kinda tech related.
So I work in a distribution center and today I learned box packing.
1. THEIR LEGACY ASS SYSTEM ONLY RUNS ON IE (FUCK ME IN THE ASS SIDEWAYS PLEASE).
2. SYSTEM CONSTANTLY FREEZES.
3. THE HAND SCANNERS RUN ON AN OLD FUCKING LEGACY WINDOWS (PRE 2000 I THINK) SYSTEM AND IS SLOW AS MOTHERFUCKING HELL.
Yes, it is VERY frustrating to have to work with this FUCKING SHIT THE WHOLE MOTHERFUCKING DAY.
Plus side today, the locations I had to pick from today included 200, 403 and 404. Had loads of inside jokes about not being able to find locations and not having permission etc 😆6
A lot of engineering fads go in circle.
Architecture in the 80s: Mainframe and clients.
Architecture in the 90s: Software systems connected by an ESB.
Architecture in the 2000s: Big central service and everyone connects to it for everything
Architecture in the 2010s: Decentralized microservices that communicate with queues.
Current: RabbitMQ and Kafka.
... Can't we just go back to the 90s?
I hate fads.
I hate when I have to get some data, and it's scattered on 20 different servers, and to load a fucking account page, a convoluted network of 40 apps have to be activated, some in PHP, others in JS, others on Java, that are developed by different teams, connected to different tiny ass DBs, all on huge clusters of tiny ass virtual machines that get 30% load at peak hours, 90% of which comes from serializing and parsing messages. 40 people maintaining this nightmare, that could've been just 7 people making a small monolithic system that easily handles this workload on a 4-core server with 32GB of RAM.
Tripple it, put it behind a load balancer, proper DB replication (use fucking CockroachDB if you really want survivability), and you've got zero downtime at a fraction of the cost.
Just because something's cool now, doesn't mean that everybody has to blindly follow it for fucks sake!
Same rant goes for functional vs OOP and all that crap. Going blindly with any of these is just a stupid fad, and the main reason why companies need refactoring of legacy code.13
I left uni in 2005 clutching my shiny new .NET based degree, and was instantly hired by a local software firm... to maintain their legacy Turbo Pascal systems.2
Worst technology I've ever worked with?
The error riddled, varchar frenzy, disgusting ui, os and architecture dependent pieces of shit, powered by the cherry on top: fucking VBA, that are applications developed with this monstrosity have kept me awake trying to understand why on earth would anyone that is not dying of cancer already would use such thing to try to build anything.
I had to deal with load of Access applications when I first started at my current company. Whats left now are mainly legacy systems, I killed them one by one and whatever's left will suffer the same punishment.
If you develop in Access you're my enemy and I will destroy you.6
Who here sends their releases through email 🤢🤢, because I do and because it is a closed off system, and because the company we are contracted for lives in 2008. Ah legacy systems....4
Legacy code is like overgrown bangs 😋 It's very hard to decide if you have to let it grow out or trim it.8
2 weeks in my new job. I started hating the work. I'm stuck working on legacy systems. This guys don't work on latest technologies.3
Our ticket tracking system and our IT service request system are from two different companies that are direct competitors. The source code is full of temporary hacks to just make them play nice until a better solution is worked out. Fast forward a few years and we're abandoning both systems in favor of a single, unified system that handles everything. We currently have maybe 20% of the new, unified system done, which is now hacked together with both of the legacy systems until we finally transition fully to the new system. The current plan is for next year, but the plan six months ago was for this year, and almost no progress has been made since then, so we're probably going to have two ticket trackers and two request systems for a while.
Actually, three ticket trackers and three request systems. The third ticket tracker is used to track work done on tickets that exist in the legacy tracker because the legacy tracker can't do that on its own, while the third request system is the oldest and most cumbersome legacy system of them all.1
I refuse to work anywhere where I am forced into becoming a professional in navigating their mess and understanding their business logic through legacy systems.
If you treat and pay your people shitty and because of that they’ve left their years of mounted shit behind, that doesn’t mean everyone else wants to pick it up and there’s not a dollar sign you can put on that.
We thrive from making things happen, not plucking little fuck ups from your rusty cogs5
Why is it that virtually all new languages in the last 25 years or so have a C-like syntax?
- Java wanted to sort-of knock off C++.
- C# wanted to be Java but on Microsoft's proprietary stack instead of SUN's (now Oracle's).
- Several other languages such as Vala, Scala, Swift, etc. do only careful evolution, seemingly so as to not alienate the devs used to previous C-like languages.
Now we're slowly arriving at the meat of this rant: back when I started university, the first semester programming lecture used Scheme, and provided a fine introduction to (functional) programming. Scheme, like other variants of Lisp, is a fine language, very flexible, code is data, data is code, but you get somewhat lost in a sea of parentheses, probably worse than the C-like languages' salad of curly braces. But it was a refreshing change from the likes of C, C++, and Java in terms of approach.
But the real enlightenment came when I read through Okasaki's paper on purely functional data structures. The author uses Standard ML in the paper, and after the initial shock (because it's different than most everything else I had seen), and getting used to the notation, I loved the crisp clarity it brings with almost no ceremony at all!
After looking around a bit, I found that nobody seems to use SML anymore, but there are viable alternatives, depending on your taste:
- Pragmatic programmers can use OCaml, which has immutability by default, and tries to guide the programmer to a functional programming mindset, but can accommodate imperative constructs easily when necessary.
- F# was born as OCaml on .NET but has now evolved into its own great thing with many upsides and very few downsides; I recommend every C# developer should give it a try.
- Somewhat more extreme is Haskell, with its ideology of pure functions and lazy evaluation that makes introducing side effects, I/O, and other imperative constructs rather a pain in the arse, and not quite my piece of cake, but learning it can still help you be a better programmer in whatever language you use on a day-to-day basis.
Obviously these curly-braces languages will still be needed for a long time coming, legacy systems and all—just look at COBOL—, but my point stands.7
I just found something insanely fascinating for the nuts-and-bolts computer history nerds. It's an article by Eric S. Raymond titled "Things Every Hacker Once Knew." It outlines old general-knowledge shit about the computers of the 60s-90s: ASCII, terminal protocols, bit architectures, etc. which can still be useful for anyone roped into repairing or maintaining arcane or legacy systems.
I'm currently between jobs and have a few rants about my previous job (naturally). In retrospect, it's somewhat therapeutic to range about the sheer brainfuckery that has taken place. Enjoy!
First, let me set the scene: legacy B2B web app made with LEMP stack and sencha ext.js 3 + 4 (don't ask) and a lot of madness. Let's call that app "Alpha".
Alpha is a self made CMS build for typical ERP stuff. Yes, a self made CMS: entities are containers, containers have types and fields and values. Like so many legacy PHP apps, it does not have a dedicated FE: the HTML is rendered on the server and then spewed out to the browser.
Easy right? Coding like it's 1999! But there was a twist: Because everything is basically a container, the HTML-templates are saved in the DB. Along with the nessary JS and the CSS. And the translation variables. Why? Because fuck you! That's why. Who needs a git history anyways.
For some reason, Alpha was kinda slow.
There was also an editor, that allowed you to modify templates (web, mail, pdf) on the fly in prod. Because templates contain repeating data (header/footer), one template could contain additional templates. Much confusion. You could change templates via migration (slow, boring) or just ctrl-c/ctrl-v that sucker (fast, much excitement).
Did I mention Alpha was slow?
On with the rant: e-mails! How do they work? Noone knows. How to send mails asynchronous in PHP? Witchcraft is the only possible answer to that riddle. Here is your enterprise™ solution:
1. create mail
2. insert mail into DB
3. WAIT UP TO 59 SECONDS FOR A FUCKING CRON TO SEND MAIL
Why? "Because that way, we can resend mails in case the network is down :)"
Same procedure for the SOAP-API (db-queue + cron). You read that right: all requests to various other systems are processed once a minute.
Alpha was only one of several systems. Imagine a bunch of monolithic php apps, interconnected via SOAP, REST and GraphQL like a godamn intergalactic orgy. Image having to debug that cluster fuck.
Let's say there is a bad request. These things happen. No biggie. Remember the db-queue? Let's try to send the bad request a second time! And a third time! Still no luck? How odd. Let's create a specific file in a specific directory: a LOCK-file. Now, "the db-queue is on hold and no request gets processed :)"
Golly gee thanks Alpha.
Anyhow, did you know that MySQL has a join limit of 61 tables?3
How do you get over the bad times? I keep having to work with shitty legacy systems that were written in perl and flash in the 90s, but my boss keeps telling me "No" on redoing some of the bigger stuff even though it is really needed. I mean, that is your goal here, right? Rebuilding this POS? FFS you still stored passwords in plain text twoo weeks ago! But no, you's rather dig around in Perl than upset some random user because his fucking interface looks different.
But then I also have to work with another system that I could redo in Cake/Laravel in two weeks (it's literally getting and writing data to one table, so two views and user auth), and the previous dev just... made a huge mess. I mean, why would you need to post data asynchronously when it's this one stupid form ? Just do a regular form submit? And the system is really not suitable for extending, because everything is in the database, EVERYTHING! Like, html form inputs? So to add a simple input to the template I have to create a new input type in the types table and then add that to the form structure table? Only to have the input checked by fucking regex? REGEX! Why? Seriously, this is not some high end CMS that needs this level of code reusability No. This is a simple fucking form.
And I can't get it to work. No documentation of course. No comments, either. All of this makes me feel like I'm just the shittiest dev ever. I feel dumb, and useless. Haven't turned on my private PC in weeks because I see no reason to work on any of my own stuff.
I used to have a job, working with Magento and Wordpress. And yeah, it was horrible, it was chaos, but it was fun and I was great at it. I bent that motherfucking system to fit my needs. People respected my opinion, they were convinced I could program this and that, and I proved them right. Did I make mistakes? Hell yeah. Did I give up? Fuck no!
But now, I just feel like I can't even write a simple fucking form any more. I'm just so close to giving up on development as a whole, even though I love it so much.5
Last day at work: goodbye overnight sessions breeding over some arcane legacy code that blew up in prod or manually restoring dozens of backups because the customer continued to work while systems went down due to power failure.
Colleagues last commit message at that place: It just works (Friday 8pm then shipping the code to prod)2
Last week me and my friend have been changed from a legacy PHP project to new Ruby on Rails-based setup. What, in first instance, looked like a great improvement, now becomes a nightmare.
All this convention-over-configuration is awesome - but only if you already know the conventions, or if somebody told'em to you.
And everything is going even more out of control because the damn project is based upon Spree gem and several other extensions, that MUST be changed to meet out company needs.
I'm getting really mad with all this pressure. Ruby seems to be a great language, but I'd rather be working with Laravel. Its overall organization, the centralization of CLI commands in artisan, and the astoundingly clear, eloquent, direct and well-designed documentation made my adoption curve there a little more pleasant.
I mean, legacy PHP systems are awful, but Laravel framework sounds way more easy-to-learn and well-constructed when compared to rails.
But given all this nightmare, I really want to be proved the opposite.1
My favourite time of the year, the clocks have changed and fucked every one of our legacy systems up1
Sooo cobol eeeh...?
Old legacy system still running ehh?
Eyes closed and hope for the best from management eh?
And now everybody needs them all, while simple ppl dont get their money managers just say sorry ?
Twas a timebomb and it will still be. Its hugely pathetic of those responsible to disregard their old systems and dont test them for the worst case.
Why am i trying here to deliver proper working systems with long term update schedules when ppl in charge suck with their responsibilities?3
Don't you just love it when there is no formal spec. you get a few mspaint slides and told a delivery date, scope and slides are changed by management weekly, not necessarily informing you of it. Then when your failing, deadlines pass you by you still have no clear spec 2 weeks before release, partial backend because core business devs are busy doing support on the legacy systems. No frontend cause it's been changed, redesigned and you've been forced to change frameworks and technology so many times due to corporate policy and legacy systems with another dev group holding your balls with what they allow you to do and use. Id complain but at least we've been told to be agile. This is my life now, we lost all hope and stopped caring. And management wonders why the deadlines and estimates are all off.2
Whoever the fuck at my university thought that a distributed systems project using Java Web services was a good idea? The server we're supposed to use (Glassfish) is so out-of-date, half the time spent on this project is just spent fixing fucking broken dependencies and otherwise getting it to play nice. Please just tell me this shit isn't used in industry outside of legacy applications.5
Best : Open source projects.
Worst : Legacy proprietary systems. Most of them you can only wish you have documentation and lucky if you are able to run those systems on your computer.1
Because of the amount of complaining I do at work concerning legacy php applications the HOD is trying to push for different technologies to use for backend services. We have met multiple times to discuss the proper way of handling the situation since there are a lot of very obvious things to consider regarding the push for a new tech stack. The typical names have come about, but my biggest issue will be training people for these stacks.
Testing environments with docker and so forth, push for CERTAIN applications to be more API centric and the use of better frontend frameworks that will remain standard for years to come(hard to bet on this one but I tend to orefer React) among other things are the topics of conversation.
Personally I would love to move the shop to something geared towards Golang, thing is, the lead dev is complaining about it saying that the training for a new language would just take time. After a couple of examples he is still not convinced.
I think its wrong of him to center himself on just PHP and JQUERY as the main development stack he uses and learning new things should be part of the job, I also have a case against the spaghetti code that results from just using vanilla php with no proper development practices(composer based systems, oop etc etc you get the gist)
In the end I am starting to think that it will become one of those "fuck off I am the boss" type of deal since I am going to be here after a long time and he has about 2 years before he medically retire.1
I wrote a RESTful(ish) API today and it was beautiful. The API looks exactly how I wanted it, the logic is clean and readable, it has some extensibility built-in without cluttering the code.
There are parts I'm not thrilled about but that's mostly due to having to interact with legacy systems. Super proud of myself!2
My school has a completely open SMTP server. A friend today who works for the tech department just showed me how anyone could fake an email. He did this by sending me an email as the president of the school, it looked legit. He told the security dudes but they can't secure it due to legacy systems. This is madness surely!?! Is open SMTP as bad as I think? (It is at least only accessible on the schools network).3
Just a quick question, does anyone actually use Java servlets? My professor says that it is still in active use, but I can't believe that such an asinine system is still in use besides legacy systems.
Not quite a rant, but it does annoy me to no end.4
Got to do some security audit of legacy ABAP code for SAP systems. Do people still use it? If yes, why.4
As a new Monday arrives and another work week rears its ugly head, I'd like to impart some encouraging words for once:
Some of you might be working with legacy systems with code that resembles a Jackson Pollock painting.
Some of you have teams of people, both devs and managers, with the tact and intelligence of a lemming.
And almost all of us have something in our professions that we're just not looking forward to.
But take heart, my fellow ranters.
At least you're not stuck doing stuff like this:
# ./symfony test:unit
Propel-Exception: Unable to execute DELTE ALL statement [...] Integrity constraint violation: 1451 Cannot delete or update a parent row: a foreign key constraint fails.
WHY ist a UNIT TEST reaching out to a REAL data base?
And who in their right mind would create a different data base schema for the tests?
This was with a clone of the real thing. Removing the FK results in double PK-errors...5
When working on an old system that’s a complete mess how do you handle adding new code in terms of effort?
I normally take pride in my work but if the system is such a mess I sometimes find it hard to get motivated to do it. I often find it makes me feel sleepy? Even new code that is tweaked is nowhere near as well written as if it were a new system.
Anyone else get that?3
mod-php is weird and should never have existed.
I hate having to deal with it, even if it's only still in use in years old legacy systems. FPM is so much nicer.
I know AFS is shit, but honestly its been a breeze to learn and use... Legacy systems arent so bad with AFS2
Software or hardware design solutions that are retrofitted for Legacy systems. I understand the value of backwards compatibility, but Gah damn!