Dylan Beattie

Dylan Beattie is a systems architect and software developer, who has built everything from tiny standalone websites to large-scale distributed systems. He's currently the CTO at Skills Matter in London, where he juggles his time between working on their software platform, supporting their conference and community teams, and speaking at various conferences and events they organise in London. From 2003 to 2018, he worked as webmaster, then IT Manager, and then systems architect at Spotlight (www.spotlight.com), where his first-hand experience of watching an organisation and their codebase evolve over more than a decade provided him with a unique insight into how everything from web standards and API design to Conway's Law and recruitment ends up influencing a company’s code and culture.

Dylan is actively involved in the international software development community. As well as his work with Skills Matter, he runs the London .NET User Group, he's on the programme committee for NDC Conferences, and he's a frequent speaker at conferences and technical events around the world.

Dylan grew up in southern Africa, moving to the UK with his family when he was ten. He's a Microsoft MVP and holds a degree in Computer Science from the University of Southampton. He’s a guitar player and songwriter, known for creating musical parodies about software development. He's into skiing, scuba diving, Lego, cats, travel and photography, and he's normally found hanging around user groups, pubs and rock bars in London wearing a big black hat.

NewCrafts 2018

Ctrl-Alt-Del: Learning to Love Legacy Code

  • talk
  • Architecture
  • Practices
  • People
  • Agile

The world runs on legacy code. For every greenfield progressive web app with 100% test coverage, there are literally hundreds of archaic line-of-business applications running in production - systems with no tests, no documentation, built using out-of-date tools, languages and platforms. It’s the code developers love to hate: it’s not exciting, it’s not shiny, and it won’t look good on your CV - but the world runs on legacy code, and, as developers, if we’re going to work on anything that actually matters, we’re going to end up dealing with legacy. To work effectively with this kind of system, we need to answer some fundamental questions: why was it built this way in the first place? What's happened over the years it's been running in production? And, most importantly, how can we develop our understanding of legacy codebases to the point where we're confident that we can add features, fix bugs and improve performance without making things worse?

Dylan worked on the web application stack at Spotlight (www.spotlight.com) from 2000 until 2018 - first as a supplier, then as webmaster, then as systems architect. Working on the same codebase for nearly two decades has given him an unusual perspective on how applications go from being cutting-edge to being 'legacy'. In this talk, he'll share tips, patterns and techniques that he's learned from helping new developers work with a large and unfamiliar codebase. We'll talk about virtualisation, refactoring tools, and how to bring legacy code under control using continuous integration and managed deployments. We'll explore creative ways to use common technologies like DNS to create more productive development environments. We'll talk about how to bridge the gap between automated testing and systems monitoring, how to improve visibility and transparency of your production systems - and why good old Ctrl-Alt-Del might be the secret to unlocking the potential of your legacy codebase.


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