Application Modernization vs Building App from Scratch — Choosing the Lesser of Two Evils

In the article we discuss the difference between application modernization and application rewriting and explain in which cases this or that option should be chosen.

In a dynamically changing software industry it’s just impossible to know all technology stacks, since they are constantly updating, and this process seems to be endless. And actually it is, let’s just take into consideration the past decade! There is a variety of technology stacks that have seen the world, each of them has its basic features and is applied for specific purposes. Now, if an application was developed with a currently contemporary stack, it won’t be a big deal to make some changes in the code. But it should be taken into consideration that some time later the stack, application was built with would become obsolete and would give a way to more recent technologies, so making adjustments in this app may turn out to be a real challenge. So what options do we have if there is a necessity to make changes in the already existing app? Let’s discuss application modernization and rewriting and try to figure out which one fits you better.

Option 1: Legacy Application Modernization

If you consider requesting legacy application modernization services (refactoring) — you should know that this process presupposes transformation of software’s inner structure, which does not affect its behavior and aimed at better understanding of the written code. This technique allows to make improvements to an application on the fly, so further updates may be implemented easier. There is a necessity to bear in mind the absence of possibility to change technologies and frameworks completely when you deal with refactoring. Meanwhile, the possibility to make adjustments using more contemporary technologies during the application modernization process still remains.

If you consider the frameworks that would be used for your app modernization, you may pay attention to Webix JavaScript library. This framework is a good fit for legacy application modernization, moreover, thanks to it, the expenses for refactoring may be reduced significantly.

Read also: Reducing Development Costs With Webix. Staying Afloat During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Pros of Application Modernization

Cons of Application Modernization

Read Also How to Understand It’s Time for UX/UI Modernization

Option 2: Legacy Application Rewriting

If we consider rewriting, during this process developers create absolutely new code, which is completely different from refactoring. Also, in case of building an application from scratch, changes affect not only the inner structure, but the functionality of the whole system.

Pros of Application Rewriting

Cons of Application Rewriting

So in Which Favour Should I Decide: Application Modernization or Rewriting?

Ok, let’s draw a parallel with the old building, and it’s necessary to make a decision considering its fate. Should it be just modernized or it’s better to bulldoze the place flat and build it from the ground up? It’s obvious that an architect will assess the real condition of the building and will make a decision on the basis of all technical evaluations. The same thing is with applications — it’s necessary to take into consideration all the factors that may impact the final decision. Of course, for the majority of developers the option of rewriting is much more attractive since there is no need to deal with the legacy code written by another specialist. But it’s necessary to perceive the situation from both points of view: developer’s and business’s.

The key factor here is a technical debt of the application. When there are hundreds lines of convoluted code, that makes the project almost impossible to work with, or if the technologies that had been used for the app are absolutely obsolete, it makes zero sense to deal only with modernization. That’s why it’s necessary to evaluate the project from all sides to make an informed decision and not to waste time on useless actions.


Technologies and stacks are changing, the programmers’ skill sets are also. And sooner or later it becomes necessary to make changes and improvements, especially if we speak about long-playing projects. But which option of these two described above to choose — depends on what exactly you want to gain from the application. And to make an informed decision it’s vitally important to assess all the aspects of the existing legacy application. If you are considering legacy app modernization or rewriting but don’t know where to start, please contact us, our team will help you to make the right choice.

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