The advantages of doing the “big rewrite”

Purely statistically, this is your current codebase

The big rewrite scares the living crap out of many software developers, and especially managers. The arguments against it are basically permutations of “We have spent a decade maintaining this codebase, and we have had dozens of employees working on it,  and you want to start all over again?” Of course, to an experienced software developer, the above argument is exactly why the code should be rewritten. If you don’t understand why, read the argument again, this time thinking about what it’s actually stating.

However, most managers believes that just because the spent 100+ man-hours creating the code in the first place, it will also require 100+ man hours re-creating the code. This is a fundamentally flawed argument, and has no hold in reality what so ever. In fact, I’d argue that every time you create the same piece of software, you can do it 5 times as fast. Hence, if you have created a system 3 times, the 4th time you create it, you can create it 125 times as fast as you did the first time. Simply because you at this point know everything that’s needed to wire the system together, and you are able to produce smaller and tighter code, and paradoxically the result also becomes better as a result of rewriting the system. I should know, having done this dozens of times myself. In fact, this is almost a “natural law of system development”, almost like Moore’s law. It’s difficult to believe in though, so let me illustrate my point, by showing you how I recreated a CRM system, wrapping 222 database tables, arguably replacing (at least) 50% of an existing legacy system, that had been maintained by dozens of software developers for more than a decade – And I did it in 40 seconds!

Don’t fear the big rewrite, fear the fear of the big rewrite

Facts are, there is a 95% statistical probability of that the code you currently love, in the codebase you have maintained for more than a decade, having dozens of software developers maintaining, is PURE GARBAGE! I should know having worked on dozens of legacy systems, spanning a range of more than 37 years of software development.

Download Magic here if you’re not afraid of the big rewrite

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