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Learning and Maintaining a Large Inherited Codebase? 532

An anonymous reader writes "A couple of times in my career, I've inherited a fairly large (30-40 thousand lines) collection of code. The original authors knew it because they wrote it; I didn't, and I don't. I spend a huge amount of time finding the right place to make a change, far more than I do changing anything. How would you learn such a big hunk of code? And how discouraged should I be that I can't seem to 'get' this code as well as the original developers?"

"Of course power tools and alcohol don't mix. Everyone knows power tools aren't soluble in alcohol..." -- Crazy Nigel