Posted 4 years ago in
title: Thoughts on legacy code, diversity and inclusion published: true description: TLDR; If you're still dropping snarky commentaries about PHP on Twitter, just grow up already. tags: programming, code, inclusion, discuss cover_image: https://heidislab.ams3.cdn.digitaloceanspaces.com/legacy.jpeg
TLDR; If you're still dropping snarky commentaries about PHP on Twitter, just grow up already.
As some of you may know, I've recently started a new job as Technical Writer at DigitalOcean. One of my first assignments was writing a tutorial about phpMyAdmin.
I thought a lot about legacy code / legacy applications while I was writing that tutorial.
It's not always fun to work with legacy code, but it's a great opportunity to exercise *empathy*. Read the code without judgement, think about the time and context that code was written, and how it is serving people today, exactly how it is.— Erika Heidi (@erikaheidi) April 10, 2019
Most web developers from my time had used phpMyAdmin in the past. Yes; it is a software well known because of security issues. But it has served well many people, and it still has pertinent use cases for small businesses and whenever it is necessary to expose database information (read-only, hopefully) for third parties who won't have the expertise to use software like MySQL Workbench, but still would like to peak at the data they own.
As we mature as an industry and as professionals within it, we realize more and more the need for diversity and inclusion in all spheres, even code. Inclusive code might not be the most beautiful, the most sophisticated, or the fastest. Inclusive code is code that most developers, if not all, can use and customize to their needs. It's accessible, cheap, multi-purpose. It doesn't invalidate high-standards software, but it offers a way in and fuels a whole section of the industry that wouldn't be there otherwise.
This is also valid in the context of programming languages, and how there's still people out there acting as gatekeepers, in an attempt to marginalize whole sections of our bigger developer community.
Instead of condemning the usage of software like phpMyAdmin and criticizing the developers who wrote that code, you'll be way more helpful to your community by sharing practical advice on what to do in order to improve security and usability of such applications. Naturally, it is important to educate people on the risks involved and show alternatives, but you can't close your eyes to the fact that people will keep using it anyways, whether you think it's good software or bad software.