Understanding technical debt

Nicholas C. Zakas:

In the worst case, tech debt can accumulate to the point where the web application is destined to fail. A classic tech debt issue is scalability. Initially, the goal is to get the web application up and running so that anyone can use it. Decisions are made to allow that to happen. But an app that can handle 100 users isn’t built the same way as an app to handle 1,000,000 users. In the back of the developers’ minds are a list of things that need to happen in order to scale out: hit the database less, implementing several layers of caching, reduce the size of responses, figure out a faster way to process orders, and so on.

Just like monetary debt, tech debt is best dealt with before it gets too large and overwhelming. Regularly tending to tech debt is a process I like to call code hygiene. If you don’t go to the dentist for ten years and then finally go, chances are you’ll be in for a nasty surprise by not practicing proper dental hygiene. Code hygiene is the same. Keeping on top of your tech debt means regularly going in and addressing what you can with the time available.

Great article to pass onto your manager.


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