Old Software Never Really Dies

I just got a support request from someone today for a web application that I helped to write in college. It was my first Rails project and it was made as a senior class project. We had a client who was a professor from another department. We had to write our own version of backgrounDRb, used an early version of Rails, and wrote Flash as the front-end to an annotating engine for documents.

It was a great success for us using Rails and Ruby for the first time. We easily exceeded all expectations set in the beginning of the 10 week class. We had demo screencasts, a professional looking site, a great code/test ratio (first time ever for me), and a very happy customer. Some departments in our school were seriously considering using it for their document collaboration needs, and apparently, the software found its way around the world entirely by word of mouth.

I haven’t touched the code in several years and the machine that housed the subversion repo is long gone. It got me thinking about how software never really dies. I had no idea these people were using it to this day, but it still lives out there. I don’t even have the original site up anymore, so there’s no place to download the code.

It’s sort of cool and strange knowing that something that I wrote as a class project is being used by people to actually get work done. Maybe I’ll pick it back up and polish off the old code and breathe some new life into it someday. It’s just weird to think of a Flash/Rails app I wrote a few years ago as “old.” There’s going to be more of that in the future and it’s a refreshing reminder that everything old is new again and software never truly dies.

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