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What is Code Refactoring?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 16, 2024
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A computer program is written based on specific requirements and objectives. Over time, it may be necessary to change the computer program based on the user's needs. Code refactoring is the process of constantly improving a computer program each time a change is made. This re-factoring effort should be reviewed and completed each time the code change is requested. This creates a continuous improvement cycle in the software code throughout time.

Software developers are often confronted with the dilemma of how to improve the software code for better maintenance and manageability. This is often considered wasteful from a management perspective because there is no immediate tangible benefit from this exercise. Before beginning a code refactoring effort, it is important to obtain management buy-in on the process. This will alleviate any misunderstandings in the process between the teams of the company.

The process of code refactoring enables code to gradually improve through modest enhancements, which improves performance and reliability of the software application. Each time a module is modified, it can be recoded for flexibility, maintenance, and performance gains. This continuous improvement process is considered a best practice for software development.

Code refactoring techniques have been used by development teams for many decades as a method of making better software code. One of the key factors to this is creating a work environment based on trust and respect. The developers should be trusted to make enhancements to the systems, with the guidance and approval of the company's management.

Many project managers disapprove of code refactoring. This process can add additional work to system changes, which may be considered risky for a project manager. If a project team is considering adding a refactoring process to the development effort, it will be necessary to establish guidelines and thresholds that can be used as boundaries for risk management.

Code refactoring allows code to be redesigned to improve performance, usability, and flexibility. Using this technique provides a means to evolve software with modern tools and frameworks. As new components become available they can be added into the software code.

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