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Top 7 Refactoring Techniques and 7 Critical Best Practices

Last updated on
May 16, 2024



Top 7 Refactoring Techniques and 7 Critical Best Practices

What exactly is code refactoring?

The code refactoring process is about cleaning up the code without modifying its functionality. As a result of the process, the code is revamped to become more efficient, easier to maintain and extend or develop further.

The code refactoring process is an essential process of the technical debt management process. It offers numerous benefits, both technical and business-related, including:

  • reducing code complexity
  • enhancing code clarity
  • speeding up bug detection
  • accelerating software development
  • boosting developer morale.

In this article, we elaborated more on the refactoring legacy code and developing refactoring strategies.

If you're dealing with an old system weighed down by technical debt and need to plan a refactoring strategy, stay with us for the top code refactoring techniques we recommend.

Top 7 Code Refactoring Techniques

Red-Green Refactor Method

The Red-Green-Refactor approach stands as a cornerstone in the practice of test-driven development (TDD), an iterative software development methodology centered around a concise development cycle. The core of this technique is writing tests before writing the actual codebase.

This method can be broken down into three steps:

  • Red: Start by intentionally writing a failing test to validate its effectiveness in detecting the targeted issue.
  • Green: Write the minimal code required to pass the test swiftly, prioritizing speed over code quality or maintainability.
  • Refactor: Enhance the code without altering its functionality, ensuring that the test remains successful. This involves cleaning up the code, making it more efficient, and easier to maintain.

The cycle above is repeated and applied to  to each new functionality being developed or bug fixed. This is how the method fosters the approach of continuous code refactoring and testing.

Pull-up/Push-down Method

This method, also known as refactoring by abstraction, revolves around identifying shared functionalities among multiple classes or methods and separating them into a distinct abstract class. Pull-up method involves moving a method from a subclass to its superclass, while Push-down works in the opposite direction.

The method helps to reduce code duplications and increase its maintainability and reusability. For example, in case there are two classes performing the same operations, these can be extracted into an abstract class housing the shared logic. As a result, the code is streamlined and becomes significantly easier to maintain, modify, and update.

Composing Method

Applying the Composing method involves breaking down complex processes into smaller, more manageable components. This modular approach enhances code maintainability, readability, and testability.
There are two major methods within the Composing method:

  • Extraction Method
    This technique involves identifying a segment of code that can be grouped together and moving it into a separate method. The old code is then substituted with a call to this newly created method. This simplifies the overall process and enhances comprehension.

  • Inline Method
    In this method, all calls to a particular method are replaced with the body of the method itself, followed by the removal of the method. This simplifies complex code, improves readability, and reduces development time.

Simplifying Methods

Simplifying methods aims to enhance code readability and comprehension by reducing complexity. This can involve minimizing the number of parameters required by a method or breaking it down into smaller, more manageable methods. As a result, the codebase becomes less prone to errors, more streamlined, and easier to maintain.

Moving features between objects

The next code refactoring technique involves transferring a method or feature between classes to maintain the coherence of each class or distribute responsibilities evenly among them. This strategy leads to a notable enhancement in recommendation relevancy, as it ensures a balanced logic and makes the code much simpler to extend and maintain.

Preparatory refactoring

Preparatory refactoring is the practice of tidying up the code prior to introducing new features or significant alterations. This technique can involve and combine any of the strategies mentioned earlier. It helps prevent issues during the development of new functionalities, simplifies the codebase, and enhances its adaptability.

User interface refactoring

The last code refactoring technique is pivotal in enhancing the usability and aesthetics of software applications. It involves making simple yet impactful changes to the user interface (UI) while also refactoring the underlying code. This might involve tasks ensuring visual consistency, enhancing readability, standardizing button sizes for uniformity, and adjusting color contrasts for better accessibility. These refinements  enhance the overall user experience and ensures that the software remains intuitive and efficient.

<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>Discover examples of legacy systems and learn how to identify them.</p></span>

Top 7 Best Practices in Code Refactoring 

Wondering how to efficiently apply code refactoring techniques? Check out these top best practices for code refactoring that'll help you make the process smooth and manageable.

  1. Refactor first

Remember to refactor the code before addying any new features. This ensures the code is in the best possible condition before making major changes, and makes it more logical, clean, and easier to develop further and maintain.

  1. Plan your refactoring 

Every refactoring project should start with a solid plan, outlining clear objectives, timing, and specific tasks needed to mitigate risks. For more information on developing a code refactoring strategy, check out our article: "Refactoring Legacy Code: Effective Strategy Step By Step."

  1. Involve QA

The QA team plays a crucial role in the code refactoring process and should be involved at every stage, starting as early as possible, to ensure the highest code quality. Testing throughout the refactoring process helps to identify any issues promptly and address them before they accumulate as technical debt.

  1. Use refactoring tools

To accelerate refactoring and boost its efficiency, consider utilizing various refactoring automation tools like static code analyzers, linters, automated testing frameworks, and more. Automating certain aspects of the process can greatly enhance developers' productivity and the overall quality of the code.

  1. Take incremental steps

Instead of refactoring a large portion of code all at once, it is recommended to take smaller steps in the process. Breaking it down reduces complexity, helping to prevent bugs and making the entire process more manageable.

  1. DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself)

This best practice revolves around avoiding duplications and repetition of information. Implementing this approach keeps the codebase clean and easier to maintain, while also helping to minimize the need for frequent code refactoring.

  1. Process over perfection

Last but not least: the aim of the code refactoring process isn't to achieve perfection. It's unrealistic to be entirely satisfied with the results, so focus on making incremental steps and progress. Consider it an ongoing, long-term process that requires regular attention, and be content with the progress made.

<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>Learn how to craft a detailed refactoring strategy for your project.</p></span> 

Start your code refactoring now

If you’re currently struggling to develop the best refactoring strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us. As software development experts, we have a huge experience in code refactoring. We will be able to advise you on top strategies and approaches and help to schedule the entire refactoring process for you. 

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Olga Gierszal
IT Outsourcing Market Analyst & Software Engineering Editor

Software development enthusiast with 7 years of professional experience in the tech industry. Experienced in outsourcing market analysis, with a special focus on nearshoring. In the meantime, our expert in explaining tech, business, and digital topics in an accessible way. Writer and translator after hours.

Olga Gierszal
IT Outsourcing Market Analyst & Software Engineering Editor

Software development enthusiast with 7 years of professional experience in the tech industry. Experienced in outsourcing market analysis, with a special focus on nearshoring. In the meantime, our expert in explaining tech, business, and digital topics in an accessible way. Writer and translator after hours.

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