Legacy Systems: How we Modernized them for one of our Clients

February 28, 2024
Case Studies

The Client:

Our Client is a commercial process improvement company based in Utah, United States. They specialize in delivering award-winning process simulation software, superior training, and acclaimed model-building services to various clients, including large commercial corporations, government agencies, and government-contracted agencies.

The Problem/Opportunity:

Our initial engagement with the client involved addressing critical issues within their existing application, developed using VC++ and C#. The primary objective was to migrate the legacy application to updated language versions while improving existing functionalities. Upon closer examination, we identified several challenges:

  • Codebase Disarray: The codebase was fragmented across multiple branches, leading to confusion and inefficiencies in the development process.
  • Bloated Code Image: The code image was excessively large, totaling 80 GB. This size hindered the progress and maintenance of the web application.
  • Complex Workflow: Tightly coupled modules in the existing codebase resulted in challenges, causing disruptions (Code Breaks) at various module levels.
  • Documentation and Standardization Challenges: The project faced a trio of challenges with the absence of comprehensive project documentation and non-compliance with standard practices. This was further complicated by having a single developer with a communication barrier, managing the project, and dealing with its legacy nature. These factors hindered adherence to standardized practices, posing obstacles in bringing the project into a functional and maintainable state.
  • External library Issue: The project encountered complexities associated with external library dependencies, introducing hurdles in the development process. Managing these dependencies required a strategic approach to ensure compatibility and streamline the project’s overall structure.
  • UI/UX Changes: The project faced the demand for ongoing UI/UX changes, necessitating the incorporation of evolving design requirements into the application. Adapting to these changes posed a unique challenge, requiring a responsive approach to enhance the user experience and keep the application aligned with current design trends.
  • Complex Development Process: The application relied on outdated libraries without support or an active lifecycle. Additionally, it was constrained to a specific Windows version and a particular version of Visual Studio, making the development process intricate and limiting its compatibility with modern environments.

Despite these challenges, we viewed them not as roadblocks but as opportunities. Our approach aimed to streamline simulation processes, enhance the reporting structure for simulated processes, and establish efficient development and deployment practices. By addressing these challenges head-on, we aimed to transform the existing application into a more robust, maintainable, and user-friendly system.

The iQuasar Solution:

  • Updating VC++ and C#: We initiated the solution by upgrading both VC++ and C# within the existing application. The outdated C# version, originally 2008, was seamlessly transitioned to the latest version, 2022. Simultaneously, the VC++ components were upgraded to their most recent version. This strategic upgrade ensured compatibility with modern development standards and provided access to the latest features, security enhancements, and performance optimizations. The application’s technology stack was thus modernized, laying a robust foundation for future development and ensuring alignment with current industry standards.
  • Codebase Optimization: Acknowledging the code organization challenges within the existing application, we implemented a targeted solution. Our approach involved a meticulous consolidation of the fragmented codebase, unifying multiple branches to establish a coherent and organized structure. To further enhance code readability, we introduced comprehensive commenting at a functionality level. This not only facilitated a clearer understanding of the code but also streamlined the development process, minimizing confusion and fostering improved collaboration among team members.
  • Code Image Reduction: Our team implemented advanced optimization techniques to significantly reduce the size of the code image. This streamlined the application, improving performance, scalability, and overall efficiency. The optimized codebase addressed challenges related to hindrances in progress and maintenance, creating a more agile and responsive system for ongoing and future development.
  • Workflow Refinement: Our team undertook a targeted approach to refine the existing workflow, addressing challenges associated with tightly coupled modules and disruptions in code at various levels. Through meticulous decoupling of these modules, we created a more stable and adaptable workflow. This effort not only minimized disruptions (Code Breaks) but also enhanced the overall robustness of the application. The refined workflow laid the groundwork for smoother development cycles, fostering a more efficient and sustainable development environment.
  • Documentation and Standardization: In response to the challenges posed by inadequate project documentation and non-compliance with standard practices, our team executed a targeted solution. We implemented a comprehensive documentation strategy, detailing project architecture and workflows. Concurrently, we introduced standardized development practices to ensure consistency and adherence to industry standards. Recognizing the hindrance posed by a single developer and communication barriers, efforts were made to enhance team communication through regular meetings and collaboration tools. This integrated approach not only addressed documentation gaps and standardization issues but also fostered a more transparent, collaborative, and maintainable project environment.
  • External Library Management: To navigate the complexities associated with external library dependencies, we conducted a comprehensive audit of external libraries, identifying outdated or incompatible components. We systematically updated and managed these dependencies, ensuring compatibility with the latest versions and streamlining the project’s overall structure. Our team implemented Proactive measures to address potential issues arising from external components, promoting stability and efficiency in the development process. This approach not only resolved challenges related to external libraries but also established a robust framework for ongoing maintenance and scalability, ensuring a smoother development experience.
  • UI/UX Enhancement: Addressing the dynamic demand for ongoing UI/UX changes, our developers adopted an agile and responsive approach. Regular collaboration with the client facilitated the seamless incorporation of evolving design requirements into the application. Our team ensured that UI/UX changes were implemented efficiently, enhancing the overall user experience and aligning the application with current design trends. This iterative process allowed for quick adaptations to evolving user needs, fostering a visually appealing and user-friendly interface. By prioritizing UI/UX integration, our team not only met design expectations but also contributed to the application’s modernity and user satisfaction.

How our solution created value for the client:

Our solution created significant value for the client by enhancing various aspects of their existing application:

  • Modernization for Efficiency: By upgrading the VC++ and C# languages to their latest versions, we modernized the application, unlocking enhanced features and ensuring improved efficiency.
  • Optimized Codebase and Performance: We meticulously organized the codebase and reduced the code image size, streamlining the development process and significantly improving application performance and scalability. Additionally, refining the tightly coupled modules improved the overall stability and adaptability of the workflow, minimizing disruptions and contributing to a more robust system.
    Moreover, our comprehensive documentation strategy and the implementation of standardized practices improved code readability and project maintainability fostering transparency, collaboration, and adherence to industry standards.
  • UI/UX Enhancement: Our team adopted an agile approach to address evolving UI/UX needs swiftly. Regular collaboration with the client facilitated the seamless integration of design changes, ensuring efficiency and a user-friendly interface. Prioritizing UI/UX, we met design expectations, contributing to the application’s modernity and heightened user satisfaction.
  • Innovative Problem Solving and Value Creation: Addressing the challenge of outdated libraries with an expired lifecycle, our solution necessitated out-of-the-box thinking for issue resolution. As these libraries moved past their support period, we strategically approached necessary changes to features, ensuring continued functionality and adding value to the client’s application. This creative problem-solving aspect became integral to our overall solution, contributing to the enhanced performance and longevity of the system.

In essence, iQuasar’s solution extended well beyond mere language upgrades. It encompassed codebase organization, workflow refinement, documentation improvements, strategic management of dependencies, and a responsive approach to design changes, all resulting in a refined, and future-ready application, delivering substantial value to our client.

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