To be honest, developers love to refactor. Even if they say they don’t. Despite code refactoring aimed to make your project better, you shouldn’t go ahead improving what you’ve done just because “you can”. To save your money, time and resources, we’d like to share with you some points to consider refactoring and describe situations when you don’t really need it. 3 reasons to refactor your code are here for you.
Nobody writes perfect code on the first try. Of course, it’s great when you refactor your code to make it more readable and maintainable. But be aware of the risk turning your refactoring into an endless loop that can hinder the actual progress. Especially with short terms of shipping things to production.
When should you refactor? There are 3 basic reasons for that:
1. Technical debt avoiding
A real headache for your software architect. Some of the technologies you decided to use in the past might become outdated. This is a normal process, but be ready to face some problems with application architecture. By doing refactoring you can solve this issue. You might need to review the global architecture, or simply refactor the parts causing the issues.
2. Learning a new code base
By refactoring the code, your developer would go through every class related to a part of the application you work on. He’d learn much more by doing some refactoring than just filling in the blanks required to implement some new feature. Even if it might take more time to deliver this feature, doing refactoring will help you truly understand the technology and a code base.
An important note! Since refactoring can introduce bugs, it’s important to do frequent code reviews while it’s in progress. Having a solid test suite really helps to avoid that, but a review is still a very good idea: not only to find out possible issues but also to make sure the code style is respected. Make sure you have good test coverage before refactoring.
A good moment to do some refactoring is when you dive into a code base you’re not familiar with.
3. Integrating new technology
To expand the number (and to raise the quality) of the options you work with, sometimes you have to integrate new technologies. In any case, refactoring might be well worth it when it comes to integrating new and useful technology into your project.
These are the main reasons to refactor. But remember not to lose yourself in it!
Don’t refactor for:
- Making the code look prettier
Every good developer hates the code he wrote when he looks back at it after a few days or weeks. But this is not the reason to refactor.
- Having a purpose that will bring actual value to the application
If the code works fine, you should not refactor it just for the sake of refactoring. Avoid at all costs the refactoring endless loop. As a rule of thumb, you should only refactor code that is related to a feature you are currently working on.
- Integrating useless technology
If you found a new technology that you think is cool and could replace something you already have, check this technology twice. Make sure it is really needed. It should bring the real value to the project. Otherwise, it’s not a good enough reason to refactor. This new technology can come in handy someday but don’t refactor your working code simply to test it.
On the base of Charles Ouellet material.
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