Real Question: Which UI Tech for Personal Tools

I recently received an email from reader Don Potts, asking which UI technology to use for a pet project on Windows. As usual, the answer is "it depends". But the decision isn't as hard as that answer makes it seem. And the rationale used for a pet project can be extended to business projects. The Project The question is a reaction to an article I wrote for the SubMain blog on WinForms. It's geared towards developers, but the core of it is that WinForms can still be a good option for projects, even though the arguments in…

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When Not to Refactor
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When Not to Refactor

There are cases where it makes sense not to touch a legacy codebase with lots of technical debt. Unlike real debt that must always be repaid, technical debt doesn't always need to be. But the use cases are more exception than rule. No Need For Change A piece of software that runs fine without the need for any change can be left to run just fine. If there are no (blocking) bugs, there is still support for the platform, maybe you're monitoring it closely and all is OK, then you have little business reason to touch it.…

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When Should A Startup Refactor?
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When Should A Startup Refactor?

If you're working at a startup, chances are things need to go very fast. Faster than business that have a steady income. A product needs to get out the door as fast as possible, so it can be OK to incur some technical debt and create legacy code. But when do you start to clean up the technical mess that is the result? Don't Wait Too Long Industry experts agree on the fact that technical debt and legacy code will slow you down in the long run. In fact, many believe that it already starts to slow…

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How Much Refactoring Should I Be Doing?
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How Much Refactoring Should I Be Doing?

So you have a working piece of software but you know the quality needs to improve. The team might be saying alarming things like "we need to rewrite this entirely." Should you halt feature development for weeks or months? Probably not. Keep Producing Features Features are what makes your product attractive to your customers. It's why they choose your product in the first place. And hopefully, it's why they're paying you as well. So stopping the development of new and requested features isn't a decision taken lightly. Some companies have done so, and successfully. A notable example…

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The TIOBE Index: Is Visual Basic .NET Dead?
Official VB.NET logo, taken from Wikipedia, sourced from the official documentation (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dotnet/)

The TIOBE Index: Is Visual Basic .NET Dead?

The TIOBE index is an index that rates the popularity of programming languages. It recently created a bit of a hubbub when it listed Visual Basic .NET on the fifth position. This was a step up from the sixth position in June 2018. This is in contrast to the perception and gut feeling of many programmers out there. However, there can be several explanations to this phenomenon. But there are also some concerns with the TIOBE index. And should we even care? The TIOBE index I recently tweeted this (partial) graph of the TIOBE index: https://twitter.com/petermorlion/status/1143412393441157120 The…

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Legacy Technology Examples
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Legacy Technology Examples

I've previously answered a specific question about whether or not .NET 4.6.2 is legacy technology. Let's broaden the scope and have a look at some examples of legacy technology. This will allow us to distill some common properties of why certain technology can be regarded as legacy technology, and what our options are. Some Specific Examples Creating a full list of legacy technology would be an impossible task. We could list hardware, operating systems, code libraries, applications, and services across a variety of eco-systems. The list would be endless. But here are some well-known examples of what…

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Refactor or Rebuild
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Refactor or Rebuild

In the land of legacy code, many teams discuss whether they should refactor the existing application or rebuild it from scratch. But the answer to this problem is more nuanced than many would like to admit. What is Refactoring? I've previously written about what refactoring is and why it is a valuable investment. In short, refactoring is where code is changed so that it has a higher quality, but without changing any functionality. This higher quality usually allows teams to pay off technical debt, prepare for new features or adhere to new standards for example. What is…

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Be Prepared For Leavers
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Be Prepared For Leavers

A lot has been written about why software developers leave, and how you can avoid it. But you can never avoid it entirely. So you must have a way of reducing the damage you experience when someone leaves. You Can't Keep People My father worked for Philips for 20+ years. Most of my friends and colleagues haven't worked at the same place for more than 10, maybe even 5 years. The current economy demands flexibility from employees. But it goes both ways. Employees have come to expect flexibility from employers: remote work, flexible hours, and also regular…

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Documenting Legacy Code
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Documenting Legacy Code

I've previously mentioned that one of the traits of legacy code is that it lacks documentation or the existing documentation is of inferior quality. Let me now provide some guidance on how to document a legacy code project, or any project for that matter. Start With the Overview The minimum amount of documentation a piece of software has must be a description of what the software does. What problem is it trying to solve? A next step would be a high overview of how this problem is solved. Don't document the nitty-gritty details yet. Just a description…

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Real Question: Is .NET 4.6.2 Legacy?

I recently received a question from a former colleague regarding the .NET Framework they were using for their application. The question was: should we regard .NET 4.6.2 as legacy? The question that follows from this is: should we make the effort of moving to a newer version or to .NET Core? Even if you're not using .NET, this post may still be relevant to you, because you can apply the thinking to your application and framework. The Support Lifecycle One thing any company should check is the support lifecycle of the framework they're using. This is important…

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