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In the life of a developer it often happens that you get assigned to an already existing software project, programmed by other developers. It can happen that this project is not maintained anymore by other developers.

I find it particularly difficult to get started on an existing project which has no active developers anymore because I don't know where to "dive in". We have for example a project which is not documented and there are no developers maintaining it. I got assigned to implement some features into this software. I got only the git repository link along my tasks. (The application is terminal-based and written in Python, but that doesn't matter)

What are the common practices to do when getting an existing project if nobody can help you? I can't ask the former developers anymore because they don't work at the company anymore.

How should I find out how the application works? I tried finding out what it actually does by installing it and trying out different commands (trial and error) but that takes a really long time. I search for a more straightforward solution for this case.

marked as duplicate by gnat, amon, Basile Starynkevitch, Dan Pichelman, Doc Brown Oct 10 '17 at 14:39

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  • Your organisation doesn't know what the thing does, but they do know what they want added? That's a bit strange. – Kilian Foth Oct 10 '17 at 13:37
  • see also Where to start? – gnat Oct 10 '17 at 13:42
  • @KilianFoth Knowing the code and knowing how to use the application is a huge difference. Since the developers who originally developed the app are gone, nobody knows how the code is structured. – Fluttershy Oct 10 '17 at 14:07
  • Documentation is more important than developers care to admit any longer. There is a trend now to reduce documentation to nothing. That is fine for short term projects and small amounst of code. – Frank Hileman Oct 10 '17 at 16:09