Mobile apps are becoming more and more significant for businesses as it helps them to establish their brand presence and also to streamline sales channel. No wonder there is heavy competition in the market to develop a highly user-friendly application as this seems to be one of the simplest and direct channels to retain customer engagement.
Know how to distinguish good mobile apps from bad ones?
Look for the purpose of the application. The purpose of the application should be so subtle and should be presented in the most direct way possible. If not, it is most probably a bad application.
When it comes to legacy apps, it is unfair to say that they are bad applications since the purpose and functionality of the application is contextual to the time when it is released in the market. Nevertheless, most of them are not designed from a user-centric point.
This makes them tough to use and complicates the business operations as they are pretty much outdated. Creating a new mobile application for your business is always an option but when you factor in the cost to make a new application or the time to roll out such an application; sometimes it just doesn’t seem to work.
During such confusing times, it is better to go with rewriting or refactoring the legacy apps. There is generally a bad vibe around this topic of mobile app rewriting vs refactoring. This is probably because of the fact that mobile developers find it difficult to work with an “antique” and pre-existing code.
Moreover, whether to refactor or rewrite is a subjective question.
So, what is mobile app refactoring?
Code refactoring is to keep the core functionality intact without changing much of the code. Only a few components of the code are changed to make the application more relevant.
Then, what is mobile app rewriting?
Rewriting an application is to completely rewrite a new code to replace an existing code but for a specific function. The application may get a new design and most probably a significant upgrade in the core functionality.
If so, what is the difference between rewriting and refactoring?
Think of refactoring as painting a house. You don’t change the walls or construct a new room, but you just paint the house to make it appear like a new one.
In this context, think of rewriting as breaking down a wall in your house to make more room for the guests! The wall is broken and the edges are cleared to add new functionality to the existing space.
Previously, the space would be less utilized as the wall in-between was restricting any movement. But, when it is deconstructed, we get new space and more room for movement.
In both cases, you should realize that the changes were totally internal and it didn’t affect the way the house looked from outside or the structural integrity of the house.
You have to keep in mind that refactoring or rewriting a legacy application is more like the above scenarios. The innovation happens inside the code structure and is strictly confined to the borders of the application.
Any of the legacy modernization trends follow the same rules. It doesn’t tamper with the skeleton of the app, but rather work on the specifics and functions.
What are the benefits of refactoring/rewriting a legacy application?
Well, the main goal is to make the app relevant. There could still be some engagement factor left in the existing application and leveraging that could be a game-changer for the business.
The main reason to not develop a mobile application from scratch is to save money and time. Apart from that,
- Better code structure.
- Easy readability.
- Decreased complexity.
- Easy maintenance.
- Enhanced security.
- Simple ways to spot bugs.
- Better processing speed.
- Improved UX.
- Seamless transition.
- Better performance.
- New app design (depends).
- Increased functionality.
- Additional features that make the application relevant.
To revive a legacy app is a big decision. It is more of a strategic decision than anything. There are only a handful of mobile app development companies in the market that can proactively understand the existing code and make room for functions.
Drawbacks of mobile app refactoring and rewriting
Of course, these methods provide a cushion for the business by innovating the legacy applications. This buys some time and works as a temporary medium to keep the existing users engaged.
So, this is not a perfect system per se. The ideal solution is to develop an application from the start. There is room for errors, but to see if that is a dealbreaker is completely subjective.
Limitations of mobile app refactoring
- Refactoring allows relatively little room for upgrading. Sometimes the technology used in the development process may be a bit outdated.
- There could be little to no resources available depending upon the tech stack used.
- We have to keep in mind that it is just a minor change and refactoring is not a substitute for an effective business strategy.
- Finding developers and testers who are ready to work with these constraints are pretty hard to find. Even if you manage to find some, you have to be ready for an extended period of testing and developing as the process can be energy draining.
- There are also not so many tools for refactoring which makes the process even harder.
Limitations of mobile app rewriting
- Rewriting the application is more of a one-time goal and severely limits the tendency to update the application after rewriting.
- This is a risky move and can further decrease customer retainment.
- Rewriting the application is time-consuming and revamping the legacy application can further this delay.
- Finding compatible systems and resources that can provide insights on the old code is really hard to follow up.
- As you are increasing the bet by totally focusing on a single attempt, the risk of you losing the bet is higher here.
- If so, then the purpose of the application gets tampered with and will affect your process.
Wrapping this up,
An application modernization strategy is a complex process. Choosing the right one can make or break your business. Cross-platform application development is replacing legacy apps.
If your strategy is not in the right place, then the question of refactoring vs rewriting becomes completely redundant.