I just joined a team who has been working in a project for over a year and a half, there's a lot of docs to read (specs, requirements etc..) , and project's repository is full of branches and tags also their are a lot of defects and bugs that need to be corrected , so i'm just kind of in a scary situation now.

I should maybe mention that the project uses J2EE, WebServices. So if anyone has any advice on how to approach this .



5 Answers 5


I wouldn't focus too much on ALL the docs, chances are they won't be uptodate. Pick and choose which ones to look at.

Try and get some time with someone with the buisness knowledge, even if it is a dev, they will know the real lay of the land.

Get the system running on your machine.

Step through the code, figure out how it works.

THEN, try fixing a bug.


Find the simplest looking bug and try to fix it.

Make sure you run any existing tests so that you're sure you don't break anything. And write a test that exposes the bug.

Keep doing this and you should get up-to-speed soon enough.


I was in your situation two years ago.

Hopefully, you have a smart team leader which will give you small bug fixes at the beginning.

The secret is to have small things done in order to motivate you.

So my advice is: when you receive tasks, don't panic but try to look at the code required to be understood in order to solve that task and in this way, step by step you will understand all the application.


What has the team lead asked you to do? Start there.

From there Anthony Eden's talk on Inheriting Code may help even though it is Rails-centric. He talks about the order in which you want to read the documentation, read the code, and jump into bug fixes.


Ask those at the top where do they believe you could do the most good and try to do that. This may be fixing a bug or adding a new feature but the key here is to get some communication going so that you aren't guessing at what to do all the time.

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