Custom Application Development

Apr 4 2009   10:30PM GMT

Legacy Applications – What Keeps Them Running?

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

It can be a huge leap from the highly customized legacy application (which for many have been in use double digit years), to the newer graphical point and click or web based AJAX type application.  So my question today is “What keeps them running?”,  or perhaps a better question is what is it about them that keeps them in place for so long?  My questions arise once again prompted by a vist with a new client now running their legacy character based system well into the double digit year mark.

“What keeps them running?” — from a technical perspective I believe its the dedication of a select few whose jobs over the years have included regular “tweaking” of the program.  It’s also the techs who are keeping the old hardware/software versions chugging along to capacity.

As for the question “What keeps them in place?” I’d have to list the following:

  • “Clean” uncluttered entry screens – design is limited by the fixed character size
  • Character size is generally larger
  • Often requires fewer keystrokes to accomplish a task
  • Easier for “Workers” to do data entry
  • Lean and mean design can mean it just runs “faster” than comparable graphical system
  • Some think its more secure – requires tighter controls
  • Legacy systems which I’ve been involved with require less computing “horsepower” to run
  • Perceived cost to update to newer technology
  • “If it ain’t broken, why fix it?”

I’m also helped in that my system of choice over my development years, Data Access’s “Dataflex” and “Visual Dataflex”, have provided many ways for me as a developer to provide users with the simplicity they require while basically hiding the complexity of the business rules.  It has also allowed me to maintain acceptable platforms upon which to run the applications.  However, at some point of time it becomes appropriate to update – even when its not broken.

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