How to Find Your Way Around an Inherited Application

It's a familiar movie plot device: a rich uncle, usually one that you've never actually met, dies, leaving you an unexpected inheritance. It might be an old mansion that turns out to be haunted, or some artifact of great value that turns out to be cursed. In either case, you usually end up wishing you'd never inherited the item, because it makes your life miserable. (Of course, in the case of the Simpsons, the family spends the night in said haunted mansion, only to decide that it's actually nicer than their own home.)

But what if the item that you've inherited isn't actually a piece of real estate or large sum of money, but is a Lotus Notes application that was written by some long departed developer whose identity is shrouded in the mists of time? There's no documentation, or if there is, it's worse than useless by virtue of the fact that it's completely out of date. To make matters worse, key bits of the application are missing - as soon as you start making changes, the whole thing stops working in unexpected ways, making it impossible to maintain or update the application.

As the Notes/Domino world has evolved, this is something that we hear more and more often from our customers. Someone near the top of the food chain decides that Notes is no longer needed, key members of the Notes team are let go, and it's up to everyone else to pick up the pieces.

Fortunately, we have a tool that can help with this situation. Teamstudio Analyzer builds a comprehensive documentation database showing all aspects of a database design. And that's not just so you can print it out and stick it on a shelf with your other documentation trophies. This is actually a useful, living document that can be updated any time you change the design of the application.

On the subject of inheritance, you can easily see where design elements are inheriting their design from. (This could explain why, on a design refresh, some things that you expected to change, didn't, and vice versa.)

You can use the Analyzer report to really find your way around the app, even locating dependencies. For example, if an agent calls a script library, or a piece of formula code uses a lookup view. If someone accidentally deleted that view, your application just broke, but not in a way that's easy to find.

If you want to get really fancy with Analyzer, and you have a set of coding standards that you want to audit your code against, you can enshrine those standards into a set of audit filters that you can easily and quickly run against your applications. Any standards violations will quickly be flagged so that they can be corrected. This is especially useful if your Notes development function has been outsourced (something else that is more common than it used to be), and you want to audit code that's been submitted from the external company.

So, if you've inherited an application from a long-departed benefactor, don't be afraid to push open the creaky front door and take a look inside. With Teamstudio Analyzer at your side, you have nothing to fear!

To talk to us about Analyzer, or any of our suite of tools that help manage, maintain or migrate your Notes apps, just click the button below. We're happy to chat!