What is code refactoring and when is it used?

If you’re interested in programming, you’ve probably come across the term code refactoring. But if this phrase doesn’t mean anything to you and you’d like to learn more about it, in this article we’ll tell you everything you need to know about refactoring, why to refactor, when code refactoring is appropriate, and what types of refactoring we know.

By the term refactoring we can imagine the process of changing the internal structure, i.e. the already existing source code of a program or application without changing its external behaviour. Refactoring aims to address issues such as duplicate code, overly long methods or functions, excessively long loops, too many function parameters, overly large classes with numerous attributes, unnecessarily complex abstractions, and switches based on data from another class. Its goal is to improve non-functional features of the code with the intention of making the code easier to read and understand, and easier to maintain, modify and extend.

Reasons to do refactoring in application development

Many people believe that if the source code is not broken and works without major problems, there is no need to fix it further. However, refactoring can extend the lifetime and slow down the aging process of source code in application development. There is also a big advantage in the case of return to code and future possible improvements, which on the other hand is still extremely expensive.

In addition to improving the design and clarity of software, refactoring helps find bugs, fix software design, and enables faster programming. Instead of having to manually search for errors, the developer can focus on writing code. As a result of refactoring, the number of classes and methods typically increases, but their size decreases, creating smaller and simpler parts of the source code.

When code refactoring is used
There are several reasons to refactor source code.

When to use application source code refactoring?

In general, source code refactoring is possible and appropriate at any time. If you feel that your program or application has reached a point where it is very difficult to navigate, or you are not sure if something is wrong or right, you can find salvation in refactoring. It is ideal when adding a new feature to a program, finding and fixing bugs, maintenance or future payback. So if you are likely to return to the code in the future, refactoring will definitely help you in this regard.

What types of refactoring do we know

In the context of refactoring, we distinguish several types of refactoring, such as refactoring at the data, statement, function, implementation and class interface level, or global refactoring:

  • Data refactoring – this includes operations such as changing the name of a variable, replacing a variable with an expression or an expression with a function, changing a primitive data type into a class, or splitting a multipurpose variable into multiple variables.
  • Statement refactoring – includes, for example, merging duplicate code parts, using break or return statements instead of a loop control variable, and replacing conditional code with polymorphism.
  • Function refactoring – this includes operations such as function extraction, adding and removing parameters, replacing a complex algorithm with a simple one, and merging similar or splitting dissimilar functions.
  • Refactoring class implementations – includes, for example, moving attributes, methods, or constructor bodies between subclasses or superclasses, or changing the location of a method or data.
  • Class interface refactoring – this includes operations such as discarding or splitting one class, moving a method within classes, adding a foreign function and extending a class.
  • Global refactoring – we include here, for example, the creation of a resource for data that we do not control or changing a one-way binding between classes to a bidirectional one and vice versa.

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