Thursday, December 1, 2016

The CRAP cycle and how to break it…

Did you ever hear about the CRAP cycle, the Create/Repair/Abandon/rePlace cycle?

You build an application. Over time you accumulate some technical debt. The application becomes harder to maintain. Developers start avoiding and working around certain aspects of the code. Maintenance becomes more and more expensive. Developers complain. New features become harder and harder to write and cost more. Business complain. The application becomes too complex to maintain, we abandon it and start replacing it. Only this time “we are doing it right!”. And of course we make the same mistakes. And the loop starts again…

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How can we break this circle? What can we do to avoid it? Or is it an unbreakable law of software?

I don’t think it has to be. The problem is that most of the time architecture, code quality and a common set of guidelines are only applied at the beginning of a project. Although most applications are built using an iterative approach, the time spent in guarding the quality of the project decreases over time. And when the project finally arrives in maintenance mode, no one cares. The budget is gone, so every fix should be done as cheap as possible…

One the reasons is that the best developers/architects are assigned to new projects and that the lesser gods need to maintain it. This is really unfortunate both for developers/architects that move on(because they cannot learn from their mistakes) and for the poor guys/girls that need to maintain the project(because they get little room for improvement).

When is the last time you had to maintain the code you wrote?

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