Here I am struggling to learn a code base that has been under the works for half a decade or so, and I am finding some parts of it somewhat difficult to grasp. I resist an urge to refactor all the things:
The main reason is… I have no idea what is the systematic approach I should take that will ultimately yield the best results! I can’t just jump at the code and subjectively make it my own, you know… Hence, my travels begin in search for the truth.
Refactoring… What iz Zat?
I needed a clear idea about what is refactoring, how does it help, and what are the practices applied when doing so. I decided to go to my teachers of software design, the people behind sourcemaking.com. I decided to go there since I was thinking about large scale refactoring, at the scale of changing some design patterns in the project.
As I visited the site, and shot them an email about my problem, I actually noticed a very interesting topic in the website! “Are you serious, they teach refactoring as well?! Sweet!”, I thought. So, I went ahead and started reading all about it, and it was nothing short of the awesome.
While reading the refactoring topic in sourcemaking, I realized they mostly talk about small scale refactoring, one that would take 5 - 15 mins on average. I was honestly more interested in larger scale refactoring, and some serious code analysis and introspection. Then I thought to myself, “That would be a great topic if Atwood ever wrote about it”.
With a rich blog like his, I am sure it’s written somewhere, and I will reach it someday, however… I couldn’t find it using humanities current search engine capabilities. So, I shot Jeff an email hoping for some guidance.
Write unit tests for the existing code.
I got a reply in a few minutes with his suggestion. I would have never guessed that writing unit tests would help, even in the remotest way ever. Then again, I have never wrote unit test before (I suck, I know). So, this is my call to delve into unit tests!!
I don’t really have a conclusion for this post, honestly. I feel that there is still something missing here… Something that has to do with how my brain compiles the code my eyes see…