Legacy Code

What Does Legacy Code Mean?

Legacy code refers to an application system source code type that is no longer supported. Legacy code can also refer to unsupported operating systems, hardware and formats. In most cases, legacy code is converted to a modern software language and platform. However, to retain familiar user functionality, legacy code is sometimes carried into new environments.

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Techopedia Explains Legacy Code

There is a common, false perception that legacy code is old. Although some software developers look at legacy code as a poorly written program, legacy code actually describes a code base that is no longer engineered but continually patched. Over time, an unlimited number of modifications may be made to a code base based on customer demand, causing what was originally well-written code to evolve into a complex monster.

A software developer will recognize legacy code when a feature cannot be added without breaking another logic. At this point, the developers may begin lobbying for a new system.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.