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The Complete Rewrite

posted May 22, 2010, 1:18 PM by Infojester   [ updated May 22, 2010, 1:19 PM ]
Originally published Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Have you ever worked on a project and not thought that is would really benefit from a complete rewrite? It would be nice if that was not the case, but I believe reality dictates that what we wind up releasing is less than ideal.

One reason for this is changes in technology. New tools, techniques, and frameworks are constantly being developed. How many projects out there using Struts would not prefer a rewrite in a more modern framework.

The second reason is time constraints. We just do not always have the time to implement things the way we would like in the ideal world. There is always pressure to get things done yesterday. Much of programming wisdom is in finding the right balance between quick development and a well designed application, and delivering as much of both as possible.

We also seem to like the complete rewrite, such as when a new release of a product comes out. Check out this announcement from Spectral Core for their excellent Full Convert product.

Full Convert 5.0 released:

1-Conversion engine rewritten so that .NET framework is no longer required. This considerably reduces installation size and memory consumption, improves conversion speed and user interface responsiveness.

I feel good about this new feature, after all, it is a complete rewrite.

When I wrote Domuswap, I didn’t have the luxury of a complete rewrite. Domuswap was developed concurrently with the XX framework 1.1 and 2.0. Once the framework proved successful in Domuswap, it was released. However, I was still using the underlying framework and legacy code. Some was rewritten, but the time certainly wasn’t there for a complete rewrite. Indeed, I was very happy with how easily the existing code fit into the Spring MVC components that were added.

Would I have liked to do a complete rewrite? Definitely. I’d probably like to prove that XSL could indeed be speedy, or get rid of that approach entirely. I’d also like to enhance the multi threading techniques. I did this to some extent for version 2.0, in conjunction with my Sarasota Java Users Group presentation on concurrency. But that feature is still in experimental stages.

If I was to do a complete rewrite of the XX Framework, I would probably start with pure Spring MVC and just weave in some of the more interesting XX features, all the while sticking to their interfaces as much as possible.

All that being said, I find myself with the luxury of doing a complete rewrite at this very moment with the New Project. I plan to do this, in addition to satisfying the necessary functionality, as an implementation of what I see as the current best practices in web application development. I’ll have much more to say about this project in future columns.