converter has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

For the past several months I've been busy rewriting the horrible perl code left behind by my predecessor. His approach to development was "Write some code. If the code runs without revealing any of the damage it's done, ship it. If not, write some more code." This code is so bad that when co-workers ask me what I'm working on, I tell them "The Madman's Diary." Yes, it would have been cheaper and faster to throw this code away and start over, but I wasn't given that option.

My latest assignment is the repair of a tangled mess of a show-stopper that was discovered in a product that was supposed to ship today. After adding an open() override that logs the arguments to open() and some quality time with the watch(1) utility observing changes to the files containing the data that are causing the problem, I've narrowed the list of suspects down to a couple in-house scripts and a few (probably altered) webmin modules.

Now that I know where to look, I'd like to identify as quickly as possible which details can be safely ignored. I plan to use Devel::DProf to produce an execution graph for reference and Tie::Watch to watch variables, but I wonder if there are other tools that I should look at. A utility or module that would allow me to incrementally build a profile with persistent notes would be wonderful.

Debugging this code is a whole different game, and I'd really appreciate some input from other monks who've dealt with this type of problem.