A dose of reality
I have been a very prolific blogger recently as I have been very busy working on a project. We all want to work on glamourous projects but this was one of those bread butter jobs which really wants to work on but it pays the bills.
A big company who has an application that that they distribute to each of the sites, then each of the sites enters their data for that quarter and then submits the results to headquarters. All the collected data is then imported into the main database. Guess what the whole application is written in Microsoft Access and the original application dates back to 1995. Naturally, after that period of time the initial design is looking shaky and there are lot of hacks in the code. We were about 3rd set of developers working on that code base.
So what did I learn, rather than patching on a old application you need to bite the bullet and rewrite the application. Sadly, that is not an easy sell to the customer, so you end up plastering over the cracks and hoping the whole thing does not fall to pieces.
Why, or why do some many companies build mission critical applications on Microsoft Access and Excel spreadsheets from hell. I like both products but they should be used for what they are designed. Sadly there comes a point when developing a Microsoft Access application where it just becomes unstable and impossible to maintain.
I also learnt the vital "/decompile" command switch when starting an Access application that is throwing a weird error for no apparent reason.
With companies being so risk adverse, I have fear that this application will still be running in another 10 years time. I have already seen a compiled Visual Basic 4 application where the source code has been lost in mists of time. Now all people can do is simply keep it running, even if that means a standalone pc.
.Net is great but how on earth are we going to be able to maintain all these islands of orphaned code and who will foot the bill for rewriting the applications ?