5 Tips to Refactor Code as a True Professional in 2022

by | Aug 31, 2022

Code is the foundation of everything we do as developers. Code is how we communicate with computers and tell them what to do. But for years, we’ve been writing code without giving a single thought to whether we are doing it right or not. It’s understandable, isn’t it? After all, we already have to deal with the stress of keeping up with the industry and the demands of our job. 

Coding is the engine that drives the software industry. It’s what gives developers the ability to turn their ideas into reality. But coding is also a complex and intricate process, and even the most experienced developers can make mistakes. Unfortunately, these mistakes can often have serious consequences. Bad code can lead to errors and glitches that can crash programs and cause data loss. It can also make software difficult to update and maintain, which can ultimately cost businesses time and money. 

Making sure that your code is as understandable and instructive as it can be is the best way to solve this (very prevalent) problem. I will go so far as to suggest that even a non-technical person should be able to understand the code that you have written. It’s high time we stopped making excuses and started working on improving the quality of our code. And the best way to do this is by code refactoring.

What is code refactoring? 

In software and program designing, “code refactoring” refers to the practice of reorganizing original code (also known as “changing the factoring”) without altering the code’s overall function. The goal of the refactoring process is to enhance the design, structure, and/or implementation of the programme (the software’s non-functional qualities) or add new functionality while maintaining the functioning of the software.

how to refactor code

 The source code’s maintainability can be improved as a result of these improvements, and a simpler, cleaner or more expressive internal architecture or object model can be created, all of which contribute to an increase in extensibility. 

Potential benefits of refactoring include improved code readability and reduced complexity. Performance enhancement is another objective that might be pursued through restructuring. Software developers often write programs that either consumes less memory or perform better.

The process of refactoring code is essential for any developer who wants to keep their software clean and maintainable. Over time, every program accumulates technical debt – a term used to describe the gradual deterioration of code quality. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as adding new features without taking the time to optimize existing code or simply not having the time or resources to address code smells. 

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Refactoring is the act of improving the design of existing code without changing its functionality. It can involve anything from restructuring methods and classes to updating dependencies and removing dead code. By regularly refactoring your code, you can ensure that it remains clean and easy to work with – even as your program grows in complexity. 

In short, refactoring is an essential part of the software development process and should be scheduled for every project from the very beginning.

The process of refactoring typically involves applying a series of basic micro-refactorings that have been standardized. Each of these micro-refactorings is (typically) a very small change to the source code of a computer programme that either maintains the functionality of the software or, at the very least, does not alter its conformance to functional requirements.

Many development environments offer automatic help for executing the mechanical parts of these fundamental refactorings, which may save a significant amount of time. By streamlining the underlying logic and removing unnecessary layers of complexity, code refactoring has the potential to assist software developers in locating and fixing latent or dormant flaws or vulnerabilities in the system. 

This is made possible by the simplification brought about by the process. If it is not done correctly, it might violate the condition that the external functionality not be modified, which could lead to the creation of new defects.

Technical Debt

The term “technical debt,” which is also referred to as “tech debt” or “code debt,” refers to the situation that arises when development teams take actions to expedite the delivery of a piece of functionality or a project that, at a later time, needs to be refactored. 

This results in “debt,” which must then be re In other words, it is the consequence of placing an emphasis on the speed of delivery rather than the quality of the code.

how to refactor code

There is a good possibility that you are familiar with the term “technical debt” if you have spent any amount of time working in the software business. This phrase is quite common in the field of information technology, where it is also known as design debt or code debt. The term “catchall” is used to refer to it since it encompasses a wide range of issues, such as errors, old code, and missing documentation.

This happens when you release dirty code that is not well tested or poorly written. Over time, this debt builds up and eventually slows down your progress. 

Just like with financial debt, the only way to get rid of technical debt is to pay it off by writing tests and code refactoring. In the long run, taking the time to write cleaner code will save you time and money. 

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So, next time you’re tempted to take a shortcut in your code, remember that it’s not worth the long-term cost.

Get rid of technical debt with code refactoring

As any experienced coder knows, writing cleaner code isn’t always easy. But it’s worth taking the time to do it right. Small changes can make a big difference in the readability and implementation of your code. 

In this tutorial, we’ll show you five simple techniques you can use to improve your code. With just a little effort, you can take your code to the next level.

how to refactor code

Main Methods to Refactor Code

Following are the main methods that programmers use to refactor code:

1- Red-Green Refactoring Method

In an agile methodology software system, the code restructuring approach known as “red-green” is by far the most common technique. Because this method adheres to the “test-first” methodology when it comes to design and implementation, it paves the way for any and all types of refactoring. The refactoring into the test-driven development cycle is conducted in three distinct phases. The developers take the initiative for the refactoring, which is executed.

Red: 

Write down the failed “red test,” which is the first step in implementing the fix. You come to a halt and assess what aspects need to be improved.

Green: 

Code refactoring is the third and final stage, in which you concentrate on streamlining methods to refine and upgrade your code while maintaining a green test status.

Therefore, this strategy may be broken down into two different parts: The first step is to write code that will add a new function to your system, and the second step will require reworking the code that is already being used to perform this function. 

It is important to keep in mind that during the process, you are not supposed to perform both tasks at the same time.

2- Abstraction

If you have to do a significant amount of refactoring, you may find that abstraction will best suit your needs. This method of code restructuring involves class inheritances, hierarchy, and extraction, with the purpose of decreasing code duplications.

The Pull-Up method/Push-Down technique is an illustration of abstraction in practice. Both of these approaches to code refactoring include classes, but they couldn’t be more different from one another. The Pull-Up technique brings the classes into a superclass, while the push-down part removes it from the superclass and transfers it down to a subclass.

Using abstraction to refactor your code gives you the ability to make significant changes to huge portions of it in stages. Even if the change is still in the process of being implemented, you will still be able to release the system on a regular basis using this method.

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3- Composing

A lengthy dirty code having code duplication is not only challenging to comprehend but also challenging to apply. The composing technique for code refactoring is a method that helps to simplify original code and remove any duplicate code that may exist. This is accomplished via a variety of approaches, some of which include the extract method and the inline method.

The process of extraction begins with the segmentation of larger sections of code into smaller pieces with the intention of locating and removing fragments. This fragmented code is then transferred and replaced with a call to the new method.

how to refactor code

The inline method in code refactoring also helps decrease complexity and write clean code. It makes it possible to get rid of methods inside the code that aren’t essential and replaces them with the method’s actual content.

4- Simplifying 

Over time, legacy code gets complex to understand due to pollution.  Simplifying helps by making the logic simple. These approaches involve modifying the relationship that exists between various classes, as well as introducing a new parameter, deleting and replacing some parameters with explicit methods, or eliminating all parameters altogether.

Consolidating conditional fragments and expressions is only one of the many ways that simplifying may be accomplished in a variety of different ways.

5- Extraction and extract variable

Strategies for restructuring code that helps to reduce the complexity of the code while improving its general readability are called the extract method. It entails shifting a piece of code or a set block of code from its existing method into a newly formed method that has a clear name in order to clarify its function. This method is then moved into the existing method.

In an extraction variable, you may transform a difficult expression that is repeated several times across your codebase into a standalone variable that is simpler to grasp. This helps to minimize the complexity of the code as well as the amount of duplicated code.

Challenges of refactoring

Code refactoring may have its benefits but like every other thing, it has its disadvantages too. Major challenges of code refactoring are:

1- Refactoring is time-consuming

It’s possible that you have no notion how much time will be required to finish the procedure. It is also possible that you may find yourself in a scenario in which you are extremely confused about what to do next.

Probability of Errors: In the event that something went wrong, you will need to invest a great deal of time in order to find a solution to the issue, and there is a significant probability that something will go wrong owing to the depth of the code.

2- Changing the interface

When we make changes to an interface, it is necessary for us to also make changes to everything else that utilizes that interface.

Interfaces are designed with the purpose of relieving us of the burden of worrying about the underlying implementation of a system. In order to ensure that previously written code does not become invalid as a result of a change to an interface, we are required to save both the old and new versions of the interface.

If we make a modification to the function’s signature, then depending on the interface that is being used, we will either be calling the old function or the new function.

We need to make sure that the code is compatible with both the old and the new interfaces by attempting to make references to both of them. Users of the older interface can be informed that they should switch to the new one in the future by having the older interface designated as deprecated. This will prevent us from introducing modifications that will cause the system to fail.

3- Hard-to-Refactor Changes in Design

There are often some design modifications that are difficult to refactor.

Because of this, it is possible that we will need to start the design process for that section of the program from scratch and then create a clean code in order to tidy up the dirty code.

5 Tips to refactor code better

1- Switch statements should be eliminated

Switch statements are typically used instead of huge if-else if constructs wherever possible. On the other hand, switch statements are quite verbose, difficult to maintain, and much more difficult to debug. 

They make our code more difficult to read and have an unusual syntax that is difficult to work with. When we add more cases, we have to manually add each case and break the statement, which is a process that is fraught with the potential for error.

Suppose for a minute that we have the requirement to include more instances in the switch statement. We will have to write a significant amount of code. It is likely that we would end up copying and pasting code, and we are all familiar with the outcome of such a scenario.

The question now is, how can we avoid using switch statements? with the utilization of an object literal. Literals that refer to objects are straightforward and easy to write, read, and take care of. Handling objects in JavaScript is something that all of us are accustomed to doing, and the syntax for doing so is far more modern than that of the switch statement.

In order for us to do the same thing, we could alternatively utilize a map. In the same way that an object is a collection of key-value pairs, a map is a collection of such pairs. The major distinction between the two is that maps can have keys of any type, but objects can only have keys that are strings. In addition, a map possesses an intriguing set of features as well as approaches. When we replace switch statements with an object literal or map, you can clearly see that our code has taken on a far more organized and understandable appearance.

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2- Use Descriptive Conditionals

When it comes to developing code, using conditional statements is a fundamental need. On the other side, they have the potential to spiral out of control and become incomprehensible very rapidly. This results in either the need to provide comments clarifying what the statement does. Or, the requirement to spend significant time tracing back our own code in order to comprehend what is going on. Both of these options are undesirable. 

3- Nested If Statements Should Be Avoided by Using Guard Clauses

The use of nested if statements are one of the most problematic things that can occur in programming. They can be seen nested ten layers deep. Getting the full understanding of what goes into coding has been a living hell for every coder in their early days. It was too difficult to grasp these points in the early days.

In order to understand how the function is supposed to work, you will probably need to give yourself a few minutes and read the instructions multiple times. 

Both reading and comprehending code that contains nested if statements can be challenging. The obnoxious nested if statement must be removed, but how can we achieve that? By turning the logic on its head and utilizing something that is known as a guard clause.

Guard clause

A guard is a binary expression that, in order for the program execution to proceed in the branch in question, the expression’s value must evaluate to be true.

4- Avoid Duplicating Code

When it comes to code, repetition is the enemy. Code duplication leads to a host of problems, from missed bugs to wasted time spent making changes in multiple places. It’s crucial to avoid code duplication at all costs, in order to write cleaner code that is maintainable. 

The best way to do this is to extract logic into functions or variables so that it only needs to be written once. This may take a bit more effort upfront, but it will save you time and headaches in the long run. So next time you’re tempted to copy and paste some code, think twice.

5- Single-purpose functions

Functions that do more than one thing are often seen as messy and confusing, making code hard to understand. In addition, if any bugs come up, it can be quite difficult to find and fix them. As a result, it’s generally advisable to avoid functions with multiple purposes and to stick to single-purpose functions. 

This helps to keep code clean and readable and makes it easier to debug should any issues arise. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but in general, single-purpose functions are the way to go.

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Benefits of Code Refactoring.

Code refactoring has many benefits for a programmer:

how to refactor code

1- It improves the design of code

The biggest advantage is that it improves the quality of the code. In addition, you have the option of bringing the code into compliance with the coding standards of the business.

Any code base will eventually degrade from its initial quality as more time passes. When working to resolve issues and create new features, developers who are working on the code frequently take shortcuts without taking into consideration the larger context of the code. 

These kinds of shortcuts are sometimes referred to as technical debt. During the process of developing software, the underlying architecture undergoes a change at the same rate as the code.

This sort of code is tough to debug as well as difficult to maintain and difficult to extend. As a result, it is necessary to rework the code in order to get a decent design. If you want to have a good design, you need to have clean code. That is code that is simple to comprehend, to expand, and to keep up to date.

2- Refactoring improves the readability of code

Adding new features is not always an easy process to do. But most challenging is when you have to access the legacy program and maintain the existing code. However, iterative refactoring is the most effective method for lowering the level of technical debt present in legacy code.

Code that has been refactored is not only simpler to understand but also simpler to deal with in the future. 

When you add a new feature, you are creating the code for two different readers each and every time. The first is the personal computer. The other party is the software developer who will work on the project at some point in the future and be responsible for its maintenance. 

The computer, which is the initial reader, is not concerned with the format of the code that it is reading. It won’t make a fuss about the structure of the code being executed and will happily carry with the execution.

The second reader, who is a potential developer, on the other hand, might not be as forgiving. When you are developing code, you should keep in mind how easy other developers will understand it in the future. When trying to connect with other developers, having a well-structured code that you have written is absolutely necessary. 

If you make it such that code can be readily modified by future developers, you not only cut down on the amount of work that has to be done but also boosts the productivity of the development team.

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3- It helps you find bugs

Adding new features isn’t easy. Most difficult is maintaining the legacy program’s code. Iterative refactoring reduces the technical debt in legacy code most effectively.

how to refactor code

When a Developer starts refactoring the code, he can identify the bugs that are formed due to the accumulating technical debt. Cleaning the unnecessary codes is the best way of finding the errors that create a bug later in your program affecting the whole function.

When adding a new feature, you create code for two readers. First, a PC. The software developer will maintain the project in the future.

The initial reader, the computer, doesn’t care about code format. It will gladly run code regardless of its form.

The second reader, a developer, may be less tolerant. When writing code, keep future developers’ comprehension in mind. Connecting with other developers requires well-structured code. Often, that future developer is you. How many times have you looked at code you wrote months ago and said, “What kind of amateur did this?” Yes, I did.

Making code easily modifiable by future developers cuts down on effort and enhances development team efficiency.

4- Refactoring helps you write code faster

When working on larger projects, the amount of time spent reworking will directly correlate to the amount of time spent developing new code. At first, listen, that doesn’t seem feasible at all. Because of the amount of time that is required for refactoring, it is easy to come to the conclusion that the process of developing software is slowed down by this step. However, this merely serves to slow it down in the near run.

Your speed will rise as you begin to build up the advantages you obtain from organizing your code. It makes you more efficient. It is now simpler to make changes to the code. Not only that, but you also begin to reuse minor methods, which frees you from the need to write such methods from the ground up. 

The names of the classes, methods, and variables are all sensible, you will need to spend less time debugging the code. If you spend less time analyzing the old code, you’ll have more time to write new code and test its components.

5- It improves your efficiency

Code refactoring helps in increasing the efficiency of writing code in the future. During the process, you detect and remove or rephrase any unnecessary or extra code and learn how to write a cleaner code while maintaining single functionality every time. It helps you learn from your own mistakes and how dirty code can be avoided in the future.

Final thoughts

Code refactoring is very essential today as the applications are becoming more and more complex. Just like you wouldn’t want to live in a cluttered and chaotic home, you also don’t want your code to be messy and difficult to understand. 

Code that is clean and well-organized is always easier to change, maintain, and work with. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the code refactoring process early on. 

By taking the time to refactor your code, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle down the road. So don’t put it off any longer – start refactoring your code today!

Still confused?  Learn more!

FAQs

At what stage should I start code refactoring?

Refactoring starts from the beginning of the code as it is the process of re-writing code by eliminating extra or excess codes.

Does refactoring make coding slow?

Refactoring can make you slow in the beginning but as you start re-using minor methods, you can pick up speed and write faster due to lesser and more streamlined codes.

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