EngineeringHow to make your software solution future-proof

Give yourself enough time to come up with a solution and maybe even a possible rework. But before you do this, you have to calculate the impact of taking this risk. Ask yourself: is the risk worth taking, or do you already take steps towards the future?

Throughout my software engineering career, I have come across several software applications that completely missed the mark of what a software application actually should be. These software applications had at least one of the following characteristics:

  • Programming language is no longer in fashion and no longer supported
  • Not able to withstand the new changes the company has undertaken
  • The original creator is the only one supporting and maintaining the system
  • Dependent on hardware that is no longer supported
  • Dependent on a specific operating system

All of the above are in some way results of a software application not being able to scale. Miyagami is very aware of this problem in software development and is determined to make software solutions that last for an eternity. So how does Miyagami make sure their software is the best they can offer? It starts with envisioning the software and making essential decisions accordingly.

One of the best parts of software engineering is the trade-offs. There is no best answer, no bullet-proof solution, and best practices can be ignored, as long as you have a good reason for it. Creating software is a very creative process. The decisions you make, the architecture you layout, and the insights and analysis you discover are critical aspects of building a scalable, robust application.

But making important decisions doesn’t stop after the software application is built. When the software application is live, it is essential to add new features and functionalities according to the client’s wishes. Constantly improving the software application is one more reason for the software to be scalable and future-proof. In this post, several techniques Miyagami uses to future proof their software solutions are discussed.

What do we do to future proof our software

Miyagami has a clear idea/vision of making their software solutions as future proof as possible, and I will be discussing some of the techniques/methods used to achieve this goal.

Work with established patterns

When working on software, Miyagami is using established patterns for development and architecture. Following established practices gives Miyagami the advantage of the extensive support and knowledge found online. In addition, most of these patterns established a community which makes it easier for receiving support in the future. Even if these patterns are no longer in use 20 years from now, our code follows a pattern, making it easier for future developers to learn and understand the software application.

Frameworks and Tools Due Diligence

Since there are tens of thousands of web frameworks with new ones coming out every other day, it is crucial to do some due diligence. Who is using them? Are they build on something already established? Are they open source or closed source? What do you need to run the framework? What are issues people are currently facing using this framework, and would it affect our software if used? Answering these questions will determine whether the tool or framework is right for your wishes. Also, due diligence is essential to calculate the risks and figuring out if the risk is worth taking.

Testing

Software needs to be tested. This goes without saying. Make sure you are using unit testing to make sure you know the code is working as expected. Testing ensures functionalities will function as they should. Solving possible bugs before users find them will save a lot of time and help to extend the lifetime of the software.

Abstract your dependencies

When developing software and getting the correct functionality, you might need to use external systems. However, a risk that comes with using an external library or system is that your software might depend on it. In that case, our software will only keep on functioning if those external systems are still functioning. Abstracting software from these dependencies will mitigate this risk, since you are not obligated to use systems provided from a specific vendor. In addition, abstraction will make it possible to swap out your vendor and replace it with another one without breaking your application.

Source control and defining a workflow

At Miyagami, we make software solutions in a team. Source control allows us to collaborate and work as a team on software seamlessly. To make our software future proof, we have defined a workflow of the software development process, including requirements, features, testing, peer reviewing and automatic deployment. Having a workflow will reduce many risks and provide future developers with complete end to end documentation. Documentation makes it possible for future developers how Miyagami works on their software projects, making it much easier to hire new developers.

Peer review

Every software developer benefits from a peer review, whether you are a senior developer or an intern. Having our team review each other's code provides a platform where developers learn from each other and correct each other when not using specific patterns or tools. So how does this contribute to making future proof software? First, it helps the developing process and keeps the developers working towards the same goal. Also, developers support each other and get a broad sense of all the parts of the software.

Automate deployments

Automating deployments will reduce time when it comes to deploying software. Also, you are not dependent on a single person that knows how to deploy the software. Therefore, a good deployment strategy will be beneficial for the future.

Monitoring and logging

A good system design should consist of a monitoring and logging strategy. This should go without saying. It is super important to know if the software is working or not working as expected. If something is not working correctly, instructions are sent to the developing team to make changes, whether it is to the system or the infrastructure.

Frequent reviews of technical arsenal

When Miyagami hands over the software, it doesn’t mean we are finished. The software needs to be maintained (depends on contract), which comes in various ways like fixing bugs, handling customer/client issues and change management. But there is another essential thing that will improve the shelf life of your software, and that is a frequent review of your technology arsenal. Are the framework, patterns and tools still the best choice? Is there any risk in continuing using them, or has the risk increased? How will you manage it? Give yourself enough time to come up with a solution and maybe even a possible rework. But before you do this, you have to calculate the impact of taking this risk. Ask yourself: is the risk worth taking, or do you already take steps towards the future?

Conclusion

To recap, here are some of the steps we take to future proof our software:

  • Work with established patterns
  • Frameworks and Tools Due Diligence
  • Testing
  • Abstract your dependencies
  • Automate deployments
  • Peer review
  • Monitoring and logging

There are many other techniques to make future-proof software but the most important thing is the mindset of the developers. We at Miyagami strive for making software solutions, which will last for a lifetime.

Robin Appels

Full-Stack Developer

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