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What Is Code Refactoring in Programming?

Arnaud Lachaume
Arnaud LachaumeLink to author's LinkedIn profile
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January 17, 2023
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Code Refactoring: Meaning, Benefits and Best Practices in 2023

What Is Code Refactoring in Programming?

Even after hours spent laboring over the odds and ends involved with backend development, some details are bound to slip through the cracks.  

The visual component of a button might find itself misaligned with the interactive command, or the layout of a particular feature might be confusing to understand.

Either way, these issues can directly affect the overall performance (and success) of a piece of software.  

For a business, this is damaging. For a service provider who is desperate to make their clients happy, this could be devastating.

To prevent the programs you work on from falling victim to high bounce rates or unengaged audiences in the long term, you need to look into code refactoring in programming.

Put simply, code refactoring is an additional development process that looks to make future software patches a quick and simple job.  

It involves restructuring (not rewriting) the backend script of software to make it easier to navigate, while also maintaining its original functionality.

“In most cases, a business should refactor code. It’s a rare circumstance that a rewrite will be required, and perhaps the biggest reason is time. It’s obvious a rewrite will take more time since the team is starting from scratch, and it’s common for developers to underestimate how long it will take.” — Forbes

Why Is Code Refactoring Important?

If multiple software engineers work on the same project, it’s only natural that software scripts can quickly become messy and inefficient (and riddled with lots of repetition).

When a near-perfect platform is delivered to end users and unavoidable errors crop up, engineers quickly realize that ignored fixes are difficult and time-consuming.

This is a situation that often results in technical debt.  

Fortunately, by implementing code refactoring as a part of your software testing process, you can reduce the likelihood of bugs while also making them easier to address if they do arise. How? Simply by eradicating duplicate scripts and bad classifications.

How Should You Use Code Refactoring?

In an ideal world, code refactoring is a core “step” during the entire software development process.  

This way, a platform isn’t submitted until it’s completely up to standard and unlikely to experience complex issues.

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Options for Code Refactoring

When you’re ready to start refactoring your code, there are a few different approaches you (or your team) can take.  

These are all tried-and-tested methods beloved by software engineers all over the world and could prove particularly useful to your organization going forward.  

You’d be well-advised to select one that either makes the most sense per project or aligns with the skills of your team.

1. Refactoring by Abstraction

Most commonly used when there’s already a very messy script, this refactoring process involves looking at hierarchy and class inheritances to fix issues.

2. Red-Green Refactoring

Ideally used as a preventive method of code refactoring, this practice encourages software engineers to run continuous tests and consider their end goals as they work.

3. Simplifying Method

This option makes script calls simpler and easier to understand. In turn, interfaces are simplified for interaction between classes.

4. Composing Technique

Or, you can extract code from the original method to create specific and clear groups that would make sense to other software engineers.

5. Extract Method

This code refactoring approach lets you take a script fragment that can be grouped, move it into a separate section, and replace the old system with a call to the origin.

What Skills Are Required to Refactor Code?

Thankfully, if you’ve got access to a development team, you already have the skills required to conduct code refactoring in programming.

Depending on the language of the script and its coherence across the board, you need an experienced software engineer who has:

  • An eye for detail
  • An understanding of the way their team thinks
  • Determination
  • Excellent stress management
  • Patience

Then, all you need to do is provide them with time. Remember, they’ll need to carefully go over every functionality of a platform and unfold the messy layers of the script.

The Benefits of Code Refactoring Use

Time. It’s a vital commodity to all businesses and, in particular, software development firms.  

Although code refactoring requires an initial sacrifice of an employee's attention for a day or two, the number of hours you save when it comes to tackling client issues is astronomical.  

When a report reveals a problem which quickly needs addressing, rather than assigning an entire team to fix their past mistakes, one person should be enough.  

As such, you can reduce the stress levels of your workforce, better manage tasks, and run a more efficient and profitable business.

The Drawbacks of Code Refactoring
In a world where clients expect faster and faster results, adding more steps to your software development process can feel less than ideal.  

But, the added value that you can offer through initial code refactoring often makes up for the extra time it takes to deliver the end result.

Refactoring not only allows you to spot problems before an app goes live, it can also reduce code issues in the future.

How to Improve Your Refactoring Process in the Long-Term

How many times have you had to go back to fix someone else's mistake, only for it to take longer than if they’d spent the time to do it right in the first place?

This is something we’ve all experienced in the workplace… especially those of us who work in software development. It’s more than annoying. It’s inconvenient and expensive.

To make the most of code refactoring, consider the key principles when starting a new project and you’ll put yourself in a really good position to create the perfect end result.  

Rather than let your software engineers work on their specific tasks in their own time and in their own way, educate them about the importance of coherency and consistency.  

You could also involve a knowledgeable project manager to oversee the software platform as it moves toward its end destination. This helps to ensure that everyone contributes high quality work that aligns with the efforts of their colleagues.  

In addition, monitoring key quality metrics (such as the refactoring ratio, or a raised bugs tracker) and how they progress over time will help you spot and resolve bottlenecks and improve your overall product quality.

FAQs

What does code refactoring mean?
It’s when you restructure the existing backend code of a software platform without making any external changes.  

How often should you refactor code?
Always conduct code refactoring before software goes live and every time an update (including the addition of a new feature) is required.

When should you refactor code and not rewrite it?
If your platform works as intended with issues that are unusually tricky to fix, then you should consider comprehensive code refactoring.

How do you refactor code efficiently?
The easiest way to get a backend script up to shape is to remove sentence duplicates, ensure functions only do one thing, and get rid of switch statements.

Identify Issues for Code Refactoring with Keypup

When developing a new piece of software, all organizations would be well advised to introduce informative analytical data to the day-to-day activity of their engineers.

Keypup’s DevOps tool is designed to provide real-time insights on a project’s progress, informing decision-making and enhancing the productivity and efficiency of your team.

We unify data from a variety of sources to create interactive dashboards that accelerate your engineers' performance and deliver value to your profit margin, time and time again. Our platform helps you assign recommended reviewers, spot and resolve roadblockers, and much more.

Request a demo today.

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