Dependency Management: Why is it important?
As the demand for innovative applications increases, the complexity of software codes multiplies exponentially. Without a doubt, it’d take more time if developers were to write every line of code required to add new functionality to a software program. This is where dependencies come in.
Instead of writing new code from scratch, developers rely on dependency libraries with the pre-written code they need to add functionality to the software.
But as you plug in more dependencies, the complexity of the software increases, and with it, the risk of using corrupted code. Negating the risk of losing track of the dependencies you input creates the need to manage dependencies properly.
In this article, I’ll share insights on the importance of dependency management and its challenges.
What is Dependency Management?
Given the rising complexity needed to improve the functionality of modern software, several dependencies are plugged into existing software.
It’s not all rosy as some code libraries create more havoc, a problem developers call “dependency hell.” Managing the dependencies you’ve incorporated becomes crucial to avoid dependency hell as more external codes are plugged into your software.
Dependency management is a system used for identifying, rectifying, and fixing dependencies to match the functions of your software’s original code.
Developers use a dependency manager to incorporate external libraries into their original software stack.
The Importance of Dependency Management
First, dependencies are meant to save time and ease the developer’s tasks. So, when a dependency creates a malfunction in your software, it isn’t easing your task.
About 80% of modern applications make use of open-source dependencies. What this means is that developers have more dependencies to manage.
And some of these external libraries contain outdated dependencies that can impact your original software—or worse—in several ways.
● License compliance: Most developers fail to understand that all licenses need to be consistent with each other. As more dependencies are plugged into your software, keeping track of all the licenses becomes tedious. Furthermore, licenses are not just bound by those obtained from direct dependencies but also by every license of transitive dependencies. Using non-compatible licenses can put your IP at risk of copyright laws.
● Improved Performance: You might miss out on current improvements that’ll enhance the functionality of your software when using outdated dependencies. Managing your dependencies helps you stay effective and efficient.
● Quality Assurance: You’ll need to prevent issues such as varying or circular dependencies and update libraries with bug fixes to keep your software running smoothly.
● Security: One issue with using dependencies is that you’ll be exposing your software to vulnerabilities and risks. If you’re not constantly updating your libraries, you may be passing that risk to others.
The Difficulties of Adopting Dependency Management
Most developers fail to update their libraries, and a simple reason for this is inertia. Convincing yourself to update your dependency library is difficult, especially when your software functions just fine, so there’s no incentive to go through the rigors of updating.
However, as I have highlighted above, there’s so much risk involved in failing to manage your dependencies.
So, the rigors of managing your dependencies, especially transitive dependencies, outweigh the risk.
Now that we have discussed the importance of dependency management, you probably have questions like, how do I make managing dependencies easy? The answer is automation.
Automation saves you time and reduces your vulnerabilities compared to the manual approach. With data breaches and compliance being a concern for developers, dependency management has become a priority.
Avoiding dependency hell is something all developers want to do. Creating a transparent management system will help you avoid the vulnerabilities associated with using external software.
Also, some tools can help you with management automation and save you from dependency hell.
What are your thoughts?