How to escape the bottomless pit of technical debt in web development?
In web development, a “black hole” can be defined as a problem that may seem minor at first, but can quickly grow into a larger, more complex issue. To avoid the risk of a black hole, it’s important to consider all features and requirements early on in the development process, document design choices and monitor potential issues for quick resolution.
In this article, Bocasay, an offshore web agency, explains what an IT development “black hole” is, and offers advice on how you can avoid it.
What is technical debt in web development?
Technical debt refers to hidden costs resulting from inappropriate design choices, development shortcuts, or problems that have not been resolved over time.
Examples can include the following:
- Obsolete technology choices.
- Non-standard coding practices.
- Unpatched security flaws.
- Performance issues.
- Compatibility issues.
This event occurs when these problems are not corrected as they arise. Not addressed in time, a bottomless pit of technical debt can cause a build-up of problems that can make code more complex, harder to maintain and ultimately more expensive to fix in the future.
Technical debt black holes can result in the following:
- Slowdown of development projects.
- Lead to security problems.
- Increase of maintenance costs.
- Damage the company’s reputation.
Therefore, it is crucial for developers to:
- Regularly monitor for potential problems.
- Consider all aspects of development.
- Resolve issues quickly to avoid accumulating technical debt.
Holding a small amount of technical debt on a project is not a bad thing. The debt helps accelerate software development toward a short-term goal, and sometimes that deadline is the most important thing.
The key, as with most forms of debt, is to pay it off quickly, before the accumulation of interest bankrupts you.
What are the consequences of uncontrolled technical debt?
Poor design choices and development shortcuts lead to technical debt, which is likely to become increasingly difficult and costly to repair over time.
Delivery delays occur when seemingly minor problems are ignored and unresolved. This causes a buildup of anomalies that delay projects.
Security errors occur when developers do not consider all aspects of security during development. The main risks that result from this are potential vulnerabilities.
Excessive complexity can occur when unnecessary features are added, basically making the code more difficult to maintain and develop in the future.
Compatibility errors are possible when code is not tested on different browsers, platforms or devices. This lack of compatibility causes a range of performance and display issues.
Excessive costs occur when minor blockages are not resolved quickly. You will have to budget for additional expenses in order to resolve larger incidents.
𝕌𝕤𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕠𝕗𝕗𝕤𝕙𝕠𝕣𝕖 𝕡𝕣𝕠𝕧𝕚𝕕𝕖𝕣𝕤 𝕗𝕠𝕣 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕨𝕖𝕓 𝕕𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕝𝕠𝕡𝕞𝕖𝕟𝕥 𝕚𝕤 𝕒 𝕨𝕒𝕪 𝕥𝕠 𝕣𝕖𝕕𝕦𝕔𝕖 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕔𝕠𝕤𝕥𝕤, 𝕨𝕙𝕚𝕝𝕖 𝕓𝕖𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕘𝕦𝕒𝕣𝕒𝕟𝕥𝕖𝕖𝕕 𝕒 𝕙𝕚𝕘𝕙-𝕢𝕦𝕒𝕝𝕚𝕥𝕪 𝕣𝕖𝕤𝕦𝕝𝕥. ℂ𝕠𝕟𝕥𝕒𝕔𝕥 𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕠𝕗𝕗𝕤𝕙𝕠𝕣𝕖 𝕨𝕖𝕓 𝕒𝕘𝕖𝕟𝕔𝕪 𝕥𝕠𝕕𝕒𝕪 𝕥𝕠 𝕒𝕤𝕤𝕚𝕤𝕥 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕚𝕟 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕕𝕚𝕘𝕚𝕥𝕒𝕝𝕚𝕫𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟!
How do I avoid getting into technical debt during a web development project?
The web development field can be particularly prone to technical debt, due to the need to create products quickly in order to meet evolving market demands.
However, there are ways to avoid falling into the black hole of technical debt:
1. Planning and Preparation 🗓️
Carefully plan the project from the beginning, taking into account requirements, resources, and timelines, to avoid impulsive decisions that could lead to long-term technical debt.
2. Iterative Development 🔂
Taking an iterative development approach allows for testing and refining the product throughout the process, avoiding many of the problems that could arise at the end of the project.
3. Good Documentation 📂
Clear and concise documentation of the code and design will allow future developers to understand and maintain the code without much difficulty.
4. A competent Development Team 🧑💻
Ensure that the development team has all the necessary technical skills in order to avoid coding errors that could lead to technical debt.
5. Reduced Complexity 🧠
Complexity can lead to technical debt. Focus on simplicity and avoid complicated solutions that could lead to additional maintenance and development costs.
6. Regular Updates ✅
Keep code and dependencies up to date in order to avoid security and compatibility issues.
Consider an Agile approach to prevent technical debt from jeopardizing the project
The Agile approach is a software development methodology that aims to improve the quality and efficiency of the development processes by encouraging collaboration between teams, promoting self-organization and offering flexibility regarding project changes.
This methodology is useful to avoid the black hole of technical debt because it aims at an iterative approach to development. This means that projects are divided into small iterations with clear objectives and short deadlines. Each iteration is tested, evaluated and improved based on the results, allowing problems to be detected and resolved quickly before they become too big.
In addition, the Agile approach encourages collaboration and close communication between team members in order to resolve problems quickly. It also ensures that all team members have a clear understanding of the vision and objectives of the project.
By identifying quality issues or development errors early on, you can correct them before they accumulate and become technical liabilities.
Finally, the Agile approach promotes the self-organization and autonomy of development teams. Thus, team members are able to make important decisions and solve problems proactively without the need for constant intervention from managers or the management team.
In order to avoid too much technical debt within the development of your web project, it is crucial to implement quality development practices and regularly test the code to ensure that it is robust, secure and well-performing.