Choosing the Right Code Refactoring Tools

By CIOReview | Friday, March 10, 2017
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Working with legacy codes can be a difficult task especially when the code is written in an unfamiliar language or by an unknown programmer. Code refactoring is gaining increased interest from various enterprises and technology giants for its ability to modernize applications without affecting the front end. However, with an influx of refactoring tools in the market, enterprises can choose the right tools for refactoring the codes—based on the technology needs. The refactoring tools available for each technology include—Java, PHP, .NET and many more. To select the best tool, organizations need to evaluate a number of features and how each one can affect the refactoring process.

The most commonly used process is renaming methods and variables. In this method, the user can rename the codes while going through the codebase to better understand their functions. An important feature to consider is the ability to change the comments or variables that can be used even after they are renamed. The next important feature to note is—if the tool can generate an interface as generating interfaces manually can prove to be error prone and time consuming.

Moving to larger methods, unit testing is commonly used for refactoring. Here, users must look for the ability to highlight a bunch of lines and remove those to a different method with the required parameters to save time. However, users should keep a couple of things while using this tool. Initially users have to thoroughly examine the generated code and carefully select the highlighted portion that includes any local variable in the range. If the local variable is not included, the highlighted part will be passed in as a parameter.

While working with generic methods and classes, developers try to put in as much logic as possible in a base class and inherit into child class—significantly simplifying the entire renaming process. A feature that can help extract parent class when defining base classes can help developers to choose the properties and methods they want in the base to create new class.

The next thing developers are challenged is manipulating method signatures specially pertaining to methods where all the parameters are of the same time. A tool with automatic method signature manipulation, changing the order of those parameters is no longer a risk. Previously, if the developer forgets to change the order in one of the method calls, the compiler was unable to find the error. Developers also use directory toolkit outputs (DTOs) for passing information among methods requiring more than two parameters. A long parameter list may not be able to show the relationship between two methods—one having the same long signature are difficult to see than two methods that accept the same DTO as a parameter. A feature that can pull out DTO from the signature and refactor all the codes to use the DTO can again save time.

Finally, when I18N support needs to be added to an existing application, all the hard coded strings need to be shifted to a resource file, a tedious and error prone task. A refactoring tool loaded with this feature can also help in adding multiple language support to any application.

With these tools, developers can largely impact the design of systems to efficiently modernize applications especially mobile. By adopting the right refactoring tools, enterprises can enhance the overall structure of source code and expand the changes to all other references throughout the program. This results in a much more scalable, reusable and maintainable without altering the functions or the outcome of the programs.