Layers of Technical Debt and Complexity

On July 8, 2015 the New York Stock Exchange went down due to a software glitch. Over at Medium, Zeynep Tufekci went into detail on how it comes that software sucks.

Software sucks for many reasons, all of which go deep, are entangled, and expensive to fix.


LAYERS AND LEGACIES: A lot of software is now old enough to be multi-layered. Airline reservation systems are particularly glitchy since they’ve been around a while. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some mainframe code from the 1960s still running part of that beast.


TECHNICAL DEBT: A lot of new code is written very very fast […] Software engineers do what they can, as fast as they can. Essentially, there is a lot of equivalent of “duct-tape” in the code, holding things together. If done right, that code will eventually be fixed, commented and ported to systems built for the right scale — before there is a crisis. How often does that get done? I wager that many wait to see if the system comes crashing down, necessitating the fix. By then, you are probably too big to go down for too long, so there’s the temptation for more duct tape. And so on.

Why the Great Glitch of July 8th Should Scare You →


Published by Bramus!

Bramus is a frontend web developer from Belgium, working as a Chrome Developer Relations Engineer at Google. From the moment he discovered view-source at the age of 14 (way back in 1997), he fell in love with the web and has been tinkering with it ever since (more …)

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