Quick Summary:

In this fast-paced digital landscape, keeping up with the evolving user demands and market trends is crucial for every business. But how can you do so? Well, by ensuring up-to-date software or application, which is one of the key aspects to meeting current user expectations. However, legacy code can become an obstacle that can compromise the software’s performance, quality, and efficiency. Fortunately, code refactoring can be a perfect solution to modernize the way your software works without changing its defined functionality or design.

With an appropriate plan and strategic restructuring and optimizing the code of your software, you can get enhanced software code quality, clarity, and operations. In this blog post, we will cover how code refactoring can help revolutionize outdated software code and its various aspects, including code refactoring best practices, challenges, techniques, and more.

Table of Contents

What is Code Refactoring?

Code refactoring is basically the process of changing or restructuring the code of the application in such a way that the application’s external behavior won’t get affected. Refactoring of code in software development aims to make the code more efficient, understandable, and easily maintainable. Through the appropriate refactoring process, you can eliminate the application’s non-functional programs and lessen the chances of errors and flaws in the code.

Many business owners and aware companies know about the crucial role of code refactoring in software development and enhancement. When developing large-scale software or application, different developers have utilized different coding styles to build numerous functionalities and features. However, they often pay no attention to consistently refactoring the code before or after making the changes in the code database, resulting in a lot of cluttered and confusing code. Now that you have a basic understanding of code optimization or refactoring, let’s go through some reasons you should refactor the code for your business software.

Reasons You Need Code Refactoring in Software Development

As you know, the overall code quality and maintainability can impact not only the performance and efficiency but also the success of your software application or product. With the changes and advancements in the software over time, the code database becomes complex and difficult to understand, leading to more errors and issues. Hence, it is essential to understand the need for software refactoring to have well-organized and maintainable code in the future and to fight technical debt. Let’s review some more reasons why you must focus on code refactoring in software development.

Reasons You Need Code Refactoring in Software Development

Improve Code Readability

The main reason why it is crucial to refactor code is to transform complex and difficult-to-read code into clear and easily understandable code. Code refactoring can improve code readability and maintainability, thereby reducing bugs and flaws in the program. Apart from preventing technical debt, optimizing or refactoring the code can alleviate a cleaner code structure which helps even new developers to understand and work with the codebase.

Identify Bugs Faster

Yes, refactoring the code will help developers identify the bugs in the codebase faster. When your code becomes well-organized and easy to understand, it will become easier to discover the flaws and issues. However, if you have complex and cluttered code, code analyzing and finding bugs is difficult and time-consuming. With the refactoring of code, you can avoid instances where the users will have to deal with functionality issues due to code flaws.

Optimize Performance and Scalability

Among notable code refactoring benefits are optimizing the software’s performance and upgrading the codebase without affecting the existing functionalities. The codebase grows gradually once new features are added or the tools are updated, resulting in slower performance. But refactoring will make the code less complex and easy to process for the system, improving performance. Also, a well-refactored code will help scale up the application or upgrade the app functionality.

Enhanced Productivity and Saves Time

With the help of code refactoring, it will be feasible for the development team to comprehend the algorithmic logic of the program. Refactoring the code may take a reasonable amount of time as you must follow an appropriate strategy while investing the resources. However, in the long run, you will witness that refactoring the code will save time. You can get enhanced productivity since the development team can work efficiently due to a simple code structure.

Up-to-date Software Code

Often, the mentality of any developer working on a project is to develop or write code to execute the defined functionality. Programmers will choose to do what needs to be done and not the right thing to do when working under a deadline. However, refactoring the code allows changing the code as per the best practices and developers’ current knowledge and expertise over the coding language or frameworks. By refactoring of code in your software, you can have everything up to date, from framework updates to version upgrades.

Boost Software Efficiency

Legacy code in software or application will always facilitate inefficiency, redundancy, and outdated practice, hindering overall efficiency. Fortunately, software refactoring can help you improve efficiency by streamlining and optimizing the codebase. You can identify the opportunities for code smells, complex algorithms, enhancing data structures, and acting on resolving the code based on these aspects.

Faster Time To Market

Refactoring of the code leads to faster time to market as simplifying the code will accelerate the development. Reducing the complexity and enhancing code maintainability will add to rapid feature implementation, resolving bugs, and improving the iterative model. A well-organized codebase will allow developers to build new features faster, leading to completing the project or task before the expected time.

Save Development Efforts and Costs

When your development team deals with a complex or cluttered code structure, investing more time and effort to understand and modify the program for any existing or new developer will be essential. But by utilizing code refactoring in software development, you can avoid any special training or learning sessions needed to understand complex algorithms. With an easily readable code structure, you can save development efforts and costs due to streamlined software development.

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Exploring Code Refactoring Challenges and Solutions

Although refactoring the code is valuable in modernizing the software’s legacy code, various challenges come with it. Business owners will have to prepare themselves to face and overcome the obstacles when opting for the refactoring of code. In order to help you win over the code refactoring challenges, we have highlighted the solutions along with the challenges to help you get success.

Ambiguous Objectives

Objectives are one of the key aspects when we are talking about software refactoring. Whenever you initiate the refactoring process, having undefined objectives or goals may result in investing more than the required time and effort. Due to ambiguous objectives, your development team would not clearly understand what they need to achieve or which direction to take the project.

Solution: Determining clear objectives and goals should be considered the first step for code refactoring in software development. Define the project scope and its utmost objectives in the initial phase so everyone can be clear about the goals, preventing delays and saving time.

Time and Resources

Another notable challenge business owners may face when opting for the refactoring of code is the availability of time and resources. Software refactoring will certainly be time-consuming, especially for large and complex codebases. Allocating sufficient time and resources while balancing ongoing business operations is not easy. Shifting a team of developers from feature development to code optimization and improvement may impact other project deadlines.

Solution: You can overcome this challenge by appropriately planning and prioritizing code refactoring. Think about the objectives you want to achieve with the refactoring of code and allocate resources accordingly. Also, define the software refactoring timeline with a sufficient buffer time and regularly check if everything is working as planned.

Risk of Interrupting Existing Functionalities

Code refactoring often comes with a risk of interrupting or hindering the existing functionalities as you need to make changes or modifications to the codebase. When a developer with no prior experience with the software code or functionality optimizes the code structure, it may disrupt the existing functions and UI design.

Solution: To win over this challenge, business owners can utilize resources with thorough knowledge and expertise with the software codebase. The development team should be well aware of the main goal of refactoring the software code i.e., optimizing the codebase without changing the existing functionality. You can assign a Quality Assurance team to ensure the refactored code works correctly.

Balancing Refactoring With New Features

Most business owners find it difficult to balance refactoring the code with new feature development. Prioritizing new features or functionality development over code improvement may feel tempting, especially when the project deadline is near. However, it may result in more technical debt and impact the code maintainability and clarity in the long run.

Solution: The best solution to overcome this challenge is to refactor the code first and then work on developing new functionalities. Of course, finishing the project will take longer than usual. However, this approach can reduce the technical debt and cluttered code issues that product owners have to deal with in the future.

Refactoring Introduces New Bugs

Refactoring the code in any software or application involves modifying the codebase, which may introduce new bugs and unintended consequences. Developers may not intentionally mess up the existing process or features of the software while refactoring software code. But even small changes to the codebase can lead to the failure of the entire or part of the software.

Solution: With a consistent test-driven approach, you can ensure that refactoring of code will not generate additional bugs or interrupt the software functionality. It is essential to run tests before and after the code refactor process to validate the proper working of the software. While improving the inward structure of the code, developers should also look out for any errors or bugs in the code.

Top Code Refactoring Techniques

Businesses can use different code refactoring techniques and approaches per their project requirements. Each method works under different circumstances and offers distinct outcomes. Hence, you can choose single or multiple software refactoring techniques in software engineering or development to achieve the desired goals. Let’s review them one by one.

Top Code Refactoring Techniques

Red-Green-Refactor

Red-Green refactoring is one of the most popular techniques most businesses use in agile test-driven development. This refactoring method involves three crucial steps:

  • In the first step (Red), developers need clarity about what needs to be done or developed, along with writing a failing test for any defined functionality.
  • The second step (Green) involves developers writing code that passes all the criteria and succeeds in the test.
  • Finally, the developers need to follow the code refactor step in which they optimize and improve the code without adding new functionalities.

Refactoring by Abstraction

Refactoring by abstraction can be advantageous When you need to refactor a large codebase. Reducing unnecessary duplications and redundancy in the code is the primary goal to achieve using this refactoring method. An abstraction layer is added to the code that needs to be optimized. Also, this technique includes class inheritances, hierarchies, creating new interfaces, and replacing inheritance with delegation.

Preparatory Refactoring

Preparatory refactoring occurs when a developer sees the necessity of refactoring the code while developing a new feature. As refactoring of code is done along with introducing a new feature in the application, you can also consider this technique as a part of the software upgrade. Following this method will help reduce technical debt while saving time and effort to update the code in the future.

Simplifying Method

The simplifying refactoring method is all about adding, eliminating, replacing, and integrating new parameters and software integration while parallelly integrating new ones. This technique is best suited to dealing with older code with a more garbled and complicated structure. It involves changing class interaction by simplifying conditional expressions or method calls.

Composing Method

This method of refactoring the code combines different approaches and techniques to simplify and streamline the codebase to reduce duplications. This refactoring technique helps minimize redundancies by utilizing the extract and inline approaches.

Extract
In the extract refactoring approach, developers break down the code into smaller parts and pieces. After that, the fragmentation of the code is extracted and moved to another particular method. Then the fragmented code is replaced with a call to this new method. The extraction method can involve local variables, classes, and interfaces.

Inline
With the help of this technique, you can focus on simplifying the code by eliminating unnecessary elements and methods. It involves seeking all calls for the defined method and replacing these calls with the content of the body, making the methods available to obliterate.

Moving Features Between Objects

You can choose this code refactoring method when creating new classes and transferring the functionality between the newly developed and outdated classes. In case a defined class is not busy, developers can improve the functionality of one class while eliminating other unnecessary classes, leading to a clear and clean code structure. Likewise, if a class has too much data or logic to handle, you can move some functionalities or code to another class.

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Code Refactoring Best Practices To Follow

Following the agile methodology is one of the most convenient ways to refactor the code. Taking small steps at a time and testing thoroughly before and after making any changes to the codebase can help keep the code organized, clean, and straightforward. Managing and scaling the code becomes more difficult with software upgrades and advancements. Hence, continuous refactoring of code and timely testing is a must to have an easily understandable and optimized codebase. Here are some code refactoring best practices you can follow:

Code Refactoring Best Practices

1. Code Analyzing and Understanding: It will always be beneficial to understand and analyze the codebase to be clear about its procedures, components, variables, and approaches. Better code understanding helps you determine how to achieve the defined objectives and prevent interrupting the existing functionality.

2. Testing Often: Testing often will help to ensure the refactoring of code will not introduce new bugs or errors that affect the application’s functionality and performance. Ensure you have all the required test codes before initiating the code refactoring process. Testing before and after software refactoring is a crucial practice to follow.

3. Effective Refactoring Plan: Time can be a significant constraint when you need to utilize it for code refactoring. Planning the entire refactoring process before its implementation can help save a tremendous amount of time. The development team should have a clear idea of the objectives and the timeline to refactor the code while ensuring not to affect the existing functionality and design. An appropriate plan can lead to successful software refactoring.

4. Refactoring in Small Steps: Taking baby steps or breaking down the process into smaller steps helps identify loopholes and allows regular code testing and verification. Small steps also reduce the risk of getting errors and bugs in the code and make it easier to revert the changes if required.

5. Utilize Version Control: Utilizing version control when code refactoring will assist in tracking changes or modifications. You can also create a separate codebase for refactoring work, modifying the code, and then merging the changes to the main codebase. It enables easy rollback to the original code whenever needed.

6. Performance Monitoring: Measuring the application’s performance after refactoring the code is important. It helps you assess the effectiveness of code optimization and improvement and understand the value the refactoring process brings to the software or application.

7. Automate Refactoring: As you know, every code becomes a dreaded legacy code if not optimized at regular intervals. You can try automating some or most refactoring processes to ease the work. Automated tools and technologies can accelerate the code refactoring process and enhance efficiency.

When Is The Right Time To Refactor The Code Of Your Software?

There is no best time to refactor the code as you can consider it part of everyday work or an ongoing process. However, you can go for refactoring of code before adding any new feature or functionality to the development code. Optimizing the current code before expanding the software will improve the code quality and clarity. Below are some common situations to further help you determine the right time to refactor code.

Refactoring At A Routine Interval

Well, refactoring at a scheduled routine or allocating a fixed time to refactor the code can be beneficial. This doesn’t mean dedicating an entire day or week for the refactoring. You can just refactor the code in the last hour of the workday, which will result in your managers or team not investing additional time in code optimization.

During Code Review

Before deploying the code in the software or application, you can opt for code refactoring while reviewing the entire code. It is unnecessary to allocate refactoring tasks to a single resource; you can utilize multiple resources to save time. Developers can quickly optimize the codebase while looking out for bugs and errors when assessing the code quality.

Before and After Adding New Features or Functionalities

Whenever you need to add new functionalities and features or upgrade your software or application, you can consider it a good time for refactoring the code. You can allocate the resources and time to refactor the code before and after updating the codebase. Refactoring can help implement new features seamlessly into the existing software, making the code clearer, simpler, and maintainable.

Experiencing Performance Issues

If your software or application is experiencing performance issues, including slow response times, high resource usage, and difficulty implementing new features, refactoring the code can help. Eliminating unnecessary segments, optimizing algorithms, and improving code structures can gradually improve software performance.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you will better understand the integral role of code refactoring in software development. With a clean, easily understandable, and well-organized code structure, you can get improved performance, scalability, and code quality of your software. By appropriately optimizing and restructuring the legacy code without changing the external functions and design of the software, you can eliminate technical debt, enhance software quality and efficiency, and reduce code errors. Investing your valuable time and efforts in refactoring the code is a wise decision by knowing Software development cost which helps facilitate your business growth and achieve success in the ever-evolving software landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The primary purpose or aim of opting for code refactoring in software development is to improve or restructure the internal code structure without altering the external behavior of the software. Businesses should opt to refactor the code when experiencing technical debt and software performance issues or eliminate code complexity and cluttering.

Refactoring the code involves making changes or modifications to optimize or improve the code. In contrast, code rewriting takes place when you need to eliminate most of the software’s original code and write the code again from scratch according to the project requirements. Unlike code rewriting, the code refactoring process makes sure not to change any functionality or outer design of the software.

It will be crucial for any business owner to understand the situations when they should not prioritize code refactoring. You can avoid refactoring the code when your software code does not have appropriate test codes to measure the software’s performance after refactoring. Another instance where you cannot consider refactoring the code is when the project deadline is very near. One should not go for time-consuming code optimization when unsure about finishing the development within the defined timeline.

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