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How do I take over an existing code base?

Clint Laskowski asked in Tips

Hi, everyone. This is my first post here. I'm taking over an existing Rails 6 project that is in production (and that I haven't worked on before). There's a lot to think about :-) Has anyone compiled a list of questions to ask, tips, or things to look into and think about at the start of taking over a project? I'm very comfortable with Rails 6. Thank you.


Lots to think about! For me, the most important thing is to understand the database models and what each one's purpose is. Then it's helpful to know the different flows users will go through to better understand the controllers and views. If you can get a good understanding of that, you're going to be able to piece together your understanding of the app a lot quicker than if you have to figure it out on your own.


Thank you, @Chris Oliver. Your reply is definitely helpful (I'm a big fan, BTW :-)). I'm sure we'll agree there can be a lot more to understand and that it may be a fool's errand to try to identify everything in advance.

I found an article at that lists the following considerations when taking over the development/maintenance of a software project:

  • Know what it is supposed to do
  • Know how source code is handled
  • Know how to run the project
  • Know the testing process
  • Know the deployment process
  • Know who you can turn to for different parts of the project
  • Know which third-party services the project uses
  • Know the best way to get in touch with the decision-makers
  • Know what your timeline is
  • Know what the scope of your work is

If I compile this into a blog post, I'll share a link here.

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