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Code Refactoring: Goals, Benefits, and Why It’s Important

Paul Kovalenko Paul Kovalenko | December 28, 2020 | 10 min

Since the requirements of private and business customers change and competence in any industry permanently grows, companies apply various improvements to boost business performance. By investing in different technologies and software, they try to balance out a price, delivery time, and product quality to ensure they meet all the customers’ expectations and requirements. 

To stay on top of competitors, companies often try to speed up the development process and reduce the investment, which consequently affects the quality of work and the final product. One step that businesses can take towards achieving a higher quality is code refactoring. It is often overlooked since it is barely visible to external users. The code still works, so everything is fine, right? Yet, unclear and messy code affects the speed of a product and its overall performance. Therefore, code refactoring is crucial for reaching long-term goals.

In this article, we will not only learn the code refactoring meaning and talk about the importance of code refactoring, but also learn the purpose of refactoring the code. Furthermore, we will show you the main benefits your company can get by code refactoring. 

Let’s dive deep into the concept and update your knowledge of code together!

code refactoring definition

Source: Perfectial 

What Is Code Refactoring and What Does It Mean?

According to Martin Fowler, the father of refactoring, code refactoring is the process of editing the code of an app or a product and fixing unclear portions. Consequently, the refactored code is simplified and easy to comprehend and work with. It is all about modifying the internal structure of the product, its functionality, and its behavior.  

During the programming process, many developers are more focused on implementing the features to life so that the app or online product works. Unfortunately, the cleanliness of the code becomes a second priority or isn’t considered at all. Why bother, though, when you can just fix everything later? The question of when “later” comes is still a problem for many companies. 

Due to the fact that clean code changes nothing for the end user, 63 percent of companies do not really see the point in spending time on it, which results in so-called “code smells” — any character in the source code of a program that possibly indicates a deeper problem. They either neglect to refactor the code altogether or save it for later, at which point it is too late. The app is too slow and it is almost impossible to untangle an overly complicated database. 

Refactoring is not a single-time action but a recurring one. As your app becomes more complex, goes through several updates, and gets new features, the code will become heavier. You may have it clean and neat after you have refactored it in the development stage, but it needs repeated action if you want to add new features in the future. 

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When Should Code Be Refactored?

Code refactoring may be needed at different stages of building or upgrading the app. Moreover, the process will need to be repeated. Consider the following steps of when code should be refactored to plan out how often you will do it:

In the Development Stage

It is best to fix things before the product rolls out, so as to make the right first impression. The code smells can cause serious bugs or significant performance decreases. If users have a bad first experience, they are unlikely to use your product again, even after everything is fixed. 

Before Applying New Features 

The longer the code is, the more work you will have to put into fixing various issues, and you still might not fix everything because it is too much. If you refactor before adding something new, you will save time for yourself in the future or for those who will work with the code later. Refactoring should be performed every time you add a feature to keep things neat and understandable. 

When Bugs Show Up

You can ignore the messy code when it is still doing its job, but if users are facing issues because of its complex structure, you need to clean it up. It is easier to spend some time and money on code refactoring than marketing the app heavily and wondering why everyone leaves so fast.

If you ignore the code refactoring of your internal systems, you risk facing security breaches or downtimes that can significantly affect the major business processes.  

After Duplicates Detection

According to research, on average, duplicates contribute up to 25 percent of the full code. Duplicates make it much harder to read, maintain, and update an app or online product. The situation is even worse when the flawed part of the code is duplicated. So, you have spent hours tracking down the source of the bug, you fix it, and… there are still bugs because this identical part of the code is hiding somewhere else in the database. 

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What Goals Can Be Achieved After Code Refactoring?

After discovering what code refactoring is and when you have to consider it, it is important to learn the benefits it can bring to your business. Realizing the need for applying code refactoring to your business strategy will greatly motivate you to start this project. So, what does refactoring code mean for your platform, software, or online product? 

Increased Software Efficiency  

Increased efficiency is the number-one goal of code refactoring that makes companies take the process into account. If the old code is messy and bulky, it is highly possible that developers may spend too much time trying to detect the error and editing every code line. That is why code refactoring is a must for fast and efficient work with the code. Invest in code refactoring now to save loads of time and resources in the future! 

Better System Performance 

A refactored code means quicker system responses due to its simplicity. Users will be able to perform their tasks faster and will not need to stress too much when they have burning deadlines and the system takes ages to respond. A satisfied user means more clients, better revenue, and significant business growth.  

Comfortable Product Improvement

To remain relevant, it is crucial not only to create the product but also to add new features and update it frequently so as to meet consumers’ requirements. That is the only way to stay on top of competitors, years after the product has launched. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to do this effectively if the basic code is a mess — you can break the whole app just trying to make it better. With code refactoring, your products will always be provided with high-quality updates and trending features that can significantly boost sales.  

Reduced Technical Debt 

Technical debt has existed for years and haunts every business owner in their nightmares. Now, it has become a serious issue that can greatly impact any company. For instance, poor software quality costs more than $150 billion per year in the United States and greater than $500 billion per year worldwide. And, though it occurs for many reasons, such as the limit of time and resources, one of the core issues is bad code, that, later, results in a bad UX, poor architecture, and other negative factors. By promptly applying the code refactoring, it is much easier to reduce the debt, as well as save on the costs, efforts, and time needed for detecting and fixing serious bugs or preventing the need to start everything from scratch again. 

code refactoring benefits

Source: uruit.com 

When Should Code Not Be Refactored?

You might be surprised to see this heading after you have learned why code refactoring is so important. However, there are indeed situations when it is unnecessary. For example:

  • When it is less expensive to build a new code from a scratch, or
  • If you need big changes to your project.

Now, let’s have a look at each of these situations. 

If It Is More Expensive to Refactor Than to Build a New System

As briefly mentioned before, refactoring is a crucial point for your business and app. If this step is neglected, it can easily lead to the project’s termination and additional investments for starting a new one. With various bugs and the inability to readjust it, this code application will be useless for your business. And it may take so much investment, effort, and time to make it work correctly that it is more expensive than creating one from scratch. 

Therefore, before immersing yourself in the continuous and complex refactoring process, try to determine what is less resource-consuming. Write down all the costs, stages, and durability of improving and refactoring the software to find out what is the best option. Additionally, you can consult with professional developers to get credible information about the current state of affairs, and make up a step-by-step improvement strategy.

If You Need to Make Big Changes in the System

As stated in the definition of code refactoring, this step will not change the external parts. Therefore, it does not make sense to refactor the code and then change some significant parts of it because you want a new app structure, CMS, or other significant change. The changes you make will make the code complex and messy again. Consequently, new code refactoring will be needed. 

Just change what you need and perform code refactoring afterward. That way, no resources will be spent in vain. 

Our Experience  

Langate worked with Madison on code refactoring of their platform. Madison is a global leader in social employee recognition that delivers intuitive and multi-faceted recognition, incentive, and service anniversary programs. The company provides services to more than five million users, and to handle such a massive amount of data, Madison needed to remove the limitations of their legacy code. So, they contacted Langate to create a more flexible and efficient software. 

While working on code refactoring, Langate developed a custom solution with multiple modules that can be easily included or excluded from the service package. This has significantly increased the flexibility of the complex system. 

During the cooperation with the client, we’ve delivered not only application development services but also software testing and QA services to ensure that all the components of the system function correctly.

A professionally conducted code refactoring has also helped Madison to achieve high security standards, minimize the possibility of downtime, and create a platform that is easy to support and update. Now Madison is the number-one employee recognition provider, successfully serving companies in 160 countries.

Do you need professionals for code refactoring?
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Code refactoring means simplifying the code and making it more clear and organized. The action should be repeated for better results, as the code structure is becoming more complex after new updates and adding features. You need to perform code refactoring during the development, every time you update the app or add new features, and while fixing bugs. 

Though this process implementation might be really challenging for the company, the benefits of code refactoring are too good to not take advantage of: you can increase efficiency, fix things faster and easier, boost performance, and incorporate new features with the least possible time or effort spent. However, you will not need code refactoring if your code has become so complex that it is easier to build a new one or if you want to make major changes in the product. 

If you are still hesitant about applying code refactoring to your product or platform optimization strategy, contact us and let Langate’s professionals assist you.

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