TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Code Assets
Volume Number:10
Issue Number:2
Column Tag:Inside Information

Source Code Assets

Rewrite vs. Reuse

By Chris Espinosa, Apple Computer, Inc., MacTech Magazine Regular Contributing Author

A couple of issues ago I wrote about code reuse, and how developers who create multiple related products can save time and money by investing a little up front in good, reusable code. I stand by that idea, but a friend of mine in the development community has proposed a pretty audacious alternative.

Reusable design is great, he says, but the source code itself is expendable. You should plan to depreciate and replace your source code just like any other asset of your company, like office equipment.

For those of us who’ve grown up in the software business, this is a pretty radical idea, because of our attitude towards the preciousness of source code. Source code is the family jewels, it’s the secret recipe to how your application delivers its unique functionality. You keep it locked up; you don’t print listings in the manual; you make sure your competitors can’t get their hands on it. Otherwise, the logic goes, somebody will take your hard work and steal it. They’ll be able to deliver the benefits of your design and your algorigthms without the labor of inventing them, and not only take some of your market share and revenues, but profit more from it too.

This is reasonable, but it’s created a protectionist attitude towards source code. Obviously, anything that is of such value to your competitors must be of value to you, too. I remember a very old Peanuts comic strip where Lucy stands on one side of a closed door eating candy while Linus suffers on the other side of the door. She calls the candy “Spite Candy,” and admits that “the problem with Spite Candy is that it never tastes very good.”

The problem with holding on to the source code that’s the secret to your success is that it can hold you back. If you give them enough time, your competitors won’t need to abscond with your source; they will have written their own that’s designed better and implemented better, and they’ll take your customers rightfully.

This doesn’t mean you should rewrite your application from scratch every release. Of course you can’t; it’s too much work. And everybody knows that rewriting code can introduce bugs that take time to fix, or can disturb the backwards compatibility of the application. Nobody wants to explain that a feature in the last release works differently now because you “fixed” it.

But still, if your program has been on the market for a few years and there are other, newer competitors in your category, you have to do something other than just adding features and keeping up with the OS and hardware advances. Otherwise the “legacy” code in your application will weigh down the whole structure and decrease your ability to stay competitive.

The trick is to change your attitude about the source code. Treat it like your grandfather’s axe (as in the old saw: I still have the axe my grandfather used, though I’ve replaced the handle three times and the head once.) Institute a program of periodic refurbishing of the source, module by module, with the aim of having 100% turnover over a period of a few years. But do it a little at a time, so that the inevitable bugs you introduce can be isolated and fixed.

Focus on modernizing the code and improving the efficiency of each module. In doing this you may discover that some modules are the code equivalent of the appendix or tonsils: once useful, now annoying. You may see old code in a new light, and be able to swipe code from one product for use in another. And eventually you may get inspired on how to design a second-generation application, with an architecture that adds years of life to the application.

You have a unique and valuable asset in your source code. But you should do more with it than keep it locked up except when you’re sending it through the compiler for another minor rev. Though opening up long-closed source files is annoying and risky, you need to air it out every once in a while. Stop taking your assets for granted. Understand that if you leave it alone, it depreciates just like any other material object you own; but if you constantly refurbish and replace its source code, you can add years of marketable life to your application.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Little Snitch 4.0.1 - Alerts you about o...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activity As soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
Sparkle Pro 2.2.1 - $79.99
Sparkle Pro will change your mind if you thought building websites wasn't for you. Sparkle is the intuitive site builder that lets you create sites for your online portfolio, team or band pages, or... Read more
iWatermark Pro 2.0.0fc4 - Easily add wat...
iWatermark Pro is the essential watermarking app for professional, business, and personal use. Easily secure and protect your photos with text, a graphic, a signature, or a QR watermark. Once added... Read more
Amadeus Pro 2.4 - Multitrack sound recor...
Amadeus Pro lets you use your Mac for any audio-related task, such as live audio recording, digitizing tapes and records, converting between a variety of sound formats, etc. Thanks to its outstanding... Read more
iFFmpeg 6.4.2 - Convert multimedia files...
iFFmpeg is a comprehensive media tool to convert movie, audio and media files between formats. The FFmpeg command line instructions can be very hard to master/understand, so iFFmpeg does all the hard... Read more
EtreCheck 3.4.2 - For troubleshooting yo...
EtreCheck is an app that displays the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support Communities to... Read more
Carbon Copy Cloner 4.1.17 - Easy-to-use...
Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you're under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous,... Read more
VueScan 9.5.81 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Hopper Disassembler 4.2.10- - Binary dis...
Hopper Disassembler is a binary disassembler, decompiler, and debugger for 32- and 64-bit executables. It will let you disassemble any binary you want, and provide you all the information about its... Read more
Viber 6.8.6 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device, so... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Eden: Renaissance (Games)
Eden: Renaissance 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Eden: Renaissance is a thrilling turn-based puzzle adventure set in a luxurious world, offering a deep and moving... | Read more »
Glyph Quest Chronicles guide - how to ma...
Glyph Quest returns with a new free-to-play game, Glyph Quest Chronicles. Chronicles offers up more of the light-hearted, good humored fantasy fun that previous games featured, but with a few more refined tricks up its sleeve. It's a clever mix of... | Read more »
Catch yourself a Lugia and Articuno in P...
Pokémon Go Fest may have been a bit of a disaster, with Niantic offering fans full refunds and $100 worth of in-game curency to apologize for the failed event, but that hasn't ruined trainers' chances of catching new legendary Pokémon. Lugia nad... | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
There are quite a few truly superb games on sale on the App Store this week. If you haven't played some of these, many of which are true classics, now's the time to jump on the bandwagon. Here are the deals you need to know about. [Read more] | Read more »
Realpolitiks Mobile (Games)
Realpolitiks Mobile 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: PLEASE NOTE: The game might not work properly on discontinued 1GB of RAM devices (iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad... | Read more »
Layton’s Mystery Journey (Games)
Layton’s Mystery Journey 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $15.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: THE MUCH-LOVED LAYTON SERIES IS BACK WITH A 10TH ANNIVERSARY INSTALLMENT! Developed by LEVEL-5, LAYTON’S... | Read more »
Full Throttle Remastered (Games)
Full Throttle Remastered 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Originally released by LucasArts in 1995, Full Throttle is a classic graphic adventure game from industry legend Tim... | Read more »
Stunning shooter Morphite gets a new tra...
Morphite is officially landing on iOS in September. The game looks like the space shooter we've been needing on mobile, and we're going to see if it fits the bill quite shortly. The game's a collaborative effort between Blowfish Studios, We're Five... | Read more »
Layton's Mystery Journey arrives to...
As you might recall, Layton's Mystery Journey is headed to iOS and Android -- tomorrow! To celebrate the impending launch, Level-5's released a new trailer, complete with an adorable hamster. [Read more] | Read more »
Sidewords (Games)
Sidewords 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Grab a cup of coffee and relax with Sidewords. Sidewords is part logic puzzle, part word game, all original. No timers. No... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13-inch 3.1GHz MacBook Pros on sale for $100...
B&H Photo has the new 2017 13″ 3.1GHz Space Gray MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for $100 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY and NJ only: – 13″ 3.1GHz/256GB... Read more
Apple refurbished Mac minis available startin...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: – 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP – 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Apple’s 2017 Back to School Promotion: Free B...
Purchase a new Mac using Apple’s Education discount, and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free. As part... Read more
Clearance 2016 13-inch MacBook Pros available...
B&H Photo has clearance 2016 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today for up to $220 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Touch Bar... Read more
Apple Move Away from White Label Event Apps C...
DoubleDutch, Inc., a global provider of Live Engagement Marketing (LEM) solutions, has made a statement in the light of a game-changing announcement from Apple at this year’s WWDC conference.... Read more
70 Year Old Artist Creates Art Tools for the...
New Hampshire-based developer Pirate’s Moon has announced MyArtTools 1.1.3, the update to their precision drawing app, designed by artist Richard Hoeper exclusively for use with the 12.9-inch iPad... Read more
Sale! New 2017 13-inch 2.3GHz MacBook Pros fo...
Amazon has new 2017 13″ 2.3GHz/128GB MacBook Pros on sale today for $150 off MSRP including free shipping. Their prices are the lowest available for these models from any reseller: – 13″ 2.3GHz/128GB... Read more
13″ 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook Pro on sa...
MacMall has the 13″ 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook Pro (MPXQ2LL/A) on sale for $1219 including free shipping. Their price is $80 off MSRP. Read more
Clearance 2016 12-inch Retina MacBooks, Apple...
Apple recently dropped prices on Certified Refurbished 2016 12″ Retina MacBooks, with models now available starting at $1019. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and... Read more
Save or Share
FotoJet Designer, is a simple but powerful new graphic design apps available on both Mac and Windows. With FotoJet Designer’s 900+ templates, thousands of resources, and powerful editing tools you... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Poole -...
Job Summary The people here at Apple don't just create products - they create the kind of wonder that's revolutionised entire industries. It's the diversity of those Read more
SW Engineer *Apple* TV - Apple Inc. (United...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more Read more
Frameworks Engineering Manager, *Apple* Wat...
Frameworks Engineering Manager, Apple Watch Job Number: 41632321 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Jun. 15, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Summary Read more
Product Manager - *Apple* Pay on the *Appl...
Job Summary Apple is looking for a talented product manager to drive the expansion of Apple Pay on the Apple Online Store. This position includes a unique Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple...
SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.