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Chapter: Software Engineering - Testing and Implementation


Refactoring is usually motivated by noticing a code smell. For example the method at hand may be very long, or it may be a near duplicate of another nearby method.



Refactoring is usually motivated by noticing a code smell. For example the method at hand may be very long, or it may be a near duplicate of another nearby method. Once recognized, such problems can be addressed by refactoring the source code, or transforming it into a new form that behaves the same as before but that no longer "smells". For a long routine, one or more smaller subroutines can be extracted; or for duplicate routines, the duplication can be removed and replaced with one shared function. Failure to perform refactoring can result in accumulating technical debt.


There are two general categories of benefits to the activity of refactoring.


1.     Maintainability. It is easier to fix bugs because the source code is easy to read and the intent of its author is easy to grasp. This might be achieved by reducing large monolithic routines into a set of individually concise, well-named, single-purpose methods. It might be achieved by moving a method to a more appropriate class, or by removing misleading comments.


2.     Extensibility. It is easier to extend the capabilities of the application if it uses recognizable design patterns, and it provides some flexibility where none before may have existed.


Before applying a refactoring to a section of code, a solid set of automatic unit tests is needed. The tests are used to demonstrate that the behavior of the module is correct before the refactoring. If it inadvertently turns out that a test fails, then it's generally best to fix the test first, because otherwise it is hard to distinguish between failures introduced by refactoring and failures that were already there. After the refactoring, the tests are run again to verify the refactoring didn't break the tests. Of course, the tests can never prove that there are no bugs, but the important point is that this process can be cost-effective: good unit tests can catch enough errors to make them worthwhile and to make refactoring safe enough.


The process is then an iterative cycle of making a small program transformation, testing it to ensure correctness, and making another small transformation. If at any point a test fails, the last small change is undone and repeated in a different way. Through many small steps the program moves from where it was to where you want it to be. For this very iterative process to be practical, the tests must run very quickly, or the programmer would have to spend a large fraction of his or her time waiting for the tests to finish. Proponents of extreme programming and other agile methodologies describe this activity as an integral part of the software development cycle.


·        Techniques that allow for more abstraction


o   Encapsulate Field – force code to access the field with getter and setter methods


o   Generalize Type – create more general types to allow for more code sharing

o   Replace type-checking code with State/Strateg

o   Replace conditional with polymorphism


·        Techniques for breaking code apart into more logical pieces


o   Componentization breaks code down into reusable semantic units that present clear, well-


defined, simple-to-use interfaces.

o  Extract Class moves part of the code from an existing class into a new class.


o   Extract Method, to turn part of a larger method into a new method. By breaking down code in smaller pieces, it is more easily understandable. This is also applicable to functions.


·        Techniques for improving names and location of code


o   Move Method or Move Field – move to a more appropriate Class or source file

o  Rename Method or Rename Field – changing the name into a new one that better reveals its purpose

o Pull Up in OOP, move to a superclass o Push Down in OOP, move to a subclass


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