What happens when you stop maintaining your Rails application?

Jeanine Soterwood

Ongoing maintenance is a critical element of a product’s overall success and is commonly overlooked as a part of the continuing investment required when creating software. Post-launch there are considerable risks to not having a plan in place to maintain a Rails application. Some clients, especially those newer to building custom software, commonly think about the investment only as the cost to initially create a product.

Rails maintenance can be challenging when you are a small team because there may not be enough development work for a full-time team member, or the team is too busy with new feature work to find time to tackle these items.

Why do Rails Apps become outdated?

Many elements of your Rails application depend on external code or resources that will eventually require updates to your own code. Items that fall into this category include gems and other open-source libraries, integrations for third-party services, and architecture platform configurations. Ruby and Rails themselves are regularly improved upon, and applications require updates to the latest versions.

Outdated architecture can often be a source of difficulty for clients. Many use the Heroku platform to host their Rails application. When making a simple change to an unmaintained code base, you may be unable to deploy the change to production due to the outdated architecture that your app is running on within Heroku. Exploring this issue tends to trigger a domino effect of other items requiring attention and a substantial development effort.

What’s the risk of not maintaining my Rails app?

The longer you wait to complete updates, the more tech debt grows. The more tech debt there is, the more effort it will take to remedy from both a time and cost perspective. Having outdated elements can introduce security risks and can completely block you from making new updates. Outdated infrastructure will also hold you back from scaling successfully.

What are Rails Maintenance best practices?

thoughtbot has a team dedicated to providing Rails Maintenance. These experts start with a conversation around expectations, pain points, and priorities to ensure the collective group is on the same page.

For the Rails application itself, a code audit is the first step in collecting a lot more information about the state of the product and beginning to plan our prioritized recommendation. We explore the readiness (or existence!) of a testing suite, the overall infrastructure, the database structure, and third-party tools. Our suggested workload looks to balance the remediation of high-priority items to make sure your Rails app is running smoothly, with changes that will make the product easier to maintain long-term.

When working with the thoughtbot team, you will always have at least 2 team members familiar with the codebase and providing coverage. This redundancy ensures your product is in good hands. We have a sound process for prioritization and product development and use our 19+ years of experience building great products as we work through the day-to-day. Strong collaboration is facilitated by regular meetings and clear communication. We pride ourselves on being reliable, transparent, and trusted, coming to you with ideas and suggestions vs. waiting for directions.

The thoughtbot Rails maintenance team is focused on the long-term sustainability of your site and understands how to balance and make the most out of a set monthly budget. Take it from the experts who created factory_bot, administrate, bourbon, and suspenders, we know what it takes to make, and keep, a Rails application great.

Please contact us to discuss your Rails maintenance needs. To learn more about this offering and check out some resources, head to our website.