In today’s fast-paced digital world, apps have become essential to our daily lives. From ordering food to booking a ride, apps have made our lives more convenient and efficient. However, behind every successful app lies well-written code. As an app evolves, its codebase can become messy and hard to maintain. This is where code refactoring comes in. In this article, we’ll explore why investing in code refactoring is crucial for app success and how you can get started with this essential process. So if you’re a developer, designer, or business owner looking to take your app to the next level, read on!
Reasons why code refactoring is important
Code refactoring is a process that involves making changes to the internal structure of code to make it easier to read, maintain, and modify. It’s an essential part of software development, as it helps to ensure that code remains efficient and up-to-date.
There are several benefits of code refactoring your digital product will get, including:
- To improve code maintainability: Refactoring code can enhance its flexibility and extensibility with regard to changing business requirements. The level of code’s maintainability determines the amount of effort necessary to be made in order to implement changes in the existing codebase. Having a highly maintainable codebase reduces the complexity of adjustments to the implementation.
- To reduce technical debt: To pay off one’s “technical debt,” defined as “the expense of maintaining software that is poorly created or is not maintained in an adequate manner,” the technical debt must first be reduced. Refactoring code can reduce the likelihood of unexpected failures and bugs by aiming to implement bulletproof solutions without room for shortcuts. As refactoring often eliminates codebase dependencies that are no longer supported by 3rd party authors (external libraries etc.), it can improve your app’s security by using the latest standards and technologies. Refactoring code can assist in lowering technical debt by increasing the code’s quality while simultaneously decreasing the amount of effort required to support it.
- To improve performance: Refactoring code can help improve the performance of an application by enhancing its overall performance. Optimizing algorithms and deleting unused code allows programmers to produce code that is both more effective and faster in its execution.
- To scale up the application: If you want your application to grow in the future, reworking the code is crucial. By enhancing the code, you can make a solution that is both scalable and versatile, allowing it to keep up with shifting technological needs. You can make changes to the program to better suit its end users’ requirements.
- To add new functionality: Refactoring code can also make it easier to add new functionality to an application, which is why this is a common reason for refactoring code. Having a codebase that is painless to maintain and extend to maintain and extend allows developers to easily add up new business value on top of existing features. By conducting codebase refactoring according to solutions which are best suited for the improvement of the current implementation, developers can produce code that is more adaptable to changing circumstances and is simpler to edit.
Best practices on code refactoring for developers
When refactoring code, developers typically follow a set of best practices to ensure the process succeeds.
- With any changes in the codebase, there comes the risk of potential failures. Therefore in order to ensure refactoring can be conducted in a safe manner, developers should take care of high test coverage of the feature which is about to be refactored.
- Developers should also strive for incremental change rather than massive rewrites of existing programs. More minor modifications are easier to test and verify, and as such, they lessen the likelihood of bringing brand-new problems to your product or breaking the current behavior.
- But refactoring code can impact other parts of an application, so it’s crucial for developers to communicate with the rest of the team about what they are doing and why.
By following these best practices, developers can successfully refactor code and create software that is more efficient, reliable, and easier to maintain over time.
When should you decide on refactoring?
This is probably the most challenging question for a software developer to answer. Many sources of knowledge try to address this problem. You may learn a lot from Martin Fowler, Joshua Kerievsky, and Robert C. Martin, but in the end, you will probably often fail. But only through practice will you learn when to refactor.
The most popular design problems are:
- duplications, implicit or explicit,
- lack of code clarity,
- too complicated solutions, not the simplest that could work,
- too many responsibilities of one class/method.
Sometimes, you just leave a TODO comment instead of doing a refactor. However, if you start such a strategy, set rules about cleaning up where such comments appear. A simple example of the such rule might be to create a ticket in issue tracking software that you’re using with a description of the reasoning behind refactor necessity and then prioritizing this ticket accordingly.
When refactoring concerns the feature you implement, there is no doubt – you can’t skip it because this way, you would increase the technical debt.
Also, remember to be transparent with your team about the refactoring process. Sometimes you can find it challenging to know when you should or not report the refactoring. It can be helpful to have a refactoring list that the whole team has access to and that you can discuss at your weekly meeting.
Below are some books that might help you with decision-making:
Code refactoring is like cleaning out your closet. It may seem daunting at first, but once you get started, you'll find hidden gems you forgot you had and feel lighter and more organized when it's done.
Investing in code refactoring
Investing in code refactoring is essential for any application’s success. It may require time and resources upfront, but it can pay off in the long run by improving app performance, reducing technical debt, enhancing codebase maintenance and future development, and providing a better user experience.
Thus, how do you spend resources on reworking your app’s code?
Start by listing the parts of your application that need the most restructuring. Pay particular attention to trouble spots or places that require extra effort to keep in good shape. Also, prioritise them according to their importance to your business to ensure that you address the essential elements of your product first to deliver the most value to your users.
You can develop a strategy for your code restructuring, detailing the steps you’ll take, the outcomes you aim for, and the tools you’ll need. This way, you may be sure you are making headway toward your objectives. But be transparent with your team and stakeholders about your plans for rewriting code, explaining why it’s necessary and outlining the anticipated outcomes.
It’s also essential to ensure you’re not creating any new problems or errors with each iteration of your refactoring by performing tests at each stage. As you refactor your code, test it at every step to ensure that the changes you’re making are not introducing new issues or bugs. Having the refactor candidate well tested upfront allows for a more smooth and more secure codebase rewrite by making sure that existing behavior will not be impacted by implementation changes.
Would you like to talk more about reducing technical debt in your application?
Code refactoring saves you money in a long run
Investing in code refactoring is an essential part of app development, but it’s important to approach the process with a strategic mindset and the right expertise. Consider consulting with a software agency with the digital advisory experience to help you navigate the process and achieve success. The right software development partner can help you identify areas of your code that need improvement, prioritize which areas to tackle first and create a plan for code refactoring that fits your business goals and timelines. They can also guide best practices and ensure that your app functions smoothly throughout the refactoring process.