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  • Chris L. Bennett

Software Renovation Part 2: Planning the Renovation: Prioritizing Areas and Setting Goals

In the previous installment, we took a hard look at our over-architected codebase and realized a renovation is desperately needed. But before we start swinging the sledgehammer of refactoring, it's time for careful planning. We need blueprints, targeted demolitions, and a clear vision for the end result.

The "Everything Must Go" Trap

When faced with an overwhelming mess, it's tempting to want to tear down the entire structure and start from scratch. Resist this urge! Large-scale rewrites are risky, time-consuming, and rarely deliver the promised clean slate. Instead, we'll approach our renovation strategically, focusing on the areas that will yield the most significant impact.

Where Does It Hurt the Most?

Start by identifying the pain points:

  • High-Traffic Areas: Which parts of your code are modified frequently, causing delays and headaches?

  • Bottlenecks: Where does your application's performance suffer due to overly complex logic or inefficient designs?

  • Mental Blockers: Are there modules so convoluted that developers avoid them, leaving bugs to fester or working around them with inefficient hacks?

  • New Feature Hindrance: Does adding even simple functionality feel like a monumental task due to the existing architecture?

Renovation Goals: Practical and Achievable

Let's translate these pain points into specific renovation goals:

  • "This Feature Needs a Fast Lane": Improve performance of a core customer-facing component by X%.

  • "Onboarding Shouldn't Take a Month": Reduce the time it takes new developers to understand and modify Module Y by Z%.

  • "No More Unexplained Workarounds": Refactor Area Z, eliminating the need for those mysterious hacks everyone's afraid to touch.

Notice that these goals are measurable. This will help us determine whether our renovation efforts are truly successful.

The Art of the Possible

Renovation is an iterative process. Aim for substantial improvement over perfection. Set achievable milestones for the early stages of your refactoring project to build momentum and prevent getting overwhelmed.

A Note on Refactoring Fear

In an over-architected codebase, changing one thing can feel like pulling on a thread that unravels the entire sweater. Don't let this fear paralyze you. In the next part of the series, we'll tackle refactoring techniques that prioritize safety and help you change the structure of the code without breaking its functionality.

Before We Build: Your Blueprint

Have you started identifying your pain points and setting initial goals for your renovation project? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Coming up next: "Demolish and Rebuild: Refactoring Techniques and Strategies"

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