Clean Code: Learn How to Decide Between Rewriting or Refactoring Your Code

The decision to rewrite or refactor is crucial, as both options have advantages and disadvantages. Discover what is best for your system.

Vetor editado do Storyset. 2021 por Storyset

Developing and maintaining information technology systems is a complex task, especially when dealing with a vast array of internal systems.

Rewriting or refactoring a system can be the solution to numerous problems it may encounter.

However, considering the high cost of software development, it is necessary to be very cautious in this decision, as choosing an inappropriate method can cause various damages to the company or clients.

How to Decide Between Rewriting or Refactoring

In software development, programming errors are rarely accepted, which is why several review stages are included in the production process.

However, fixing errors can sometimes be more complicated than rewriting them from scratch. Therefore, rewriting the code can be more pleasant, avoiding errors present in the original code.

Programming code is written within a logic, and editing an already ongoing system first requires a deep understanding of its language and logical sequence. Depending on the size and complexity of the system, this review process can take a considerable amount of time.

How to Make the Decision

Software developers should consider several factors when deciding whether to rewrite or refactor a system, including:

  • The maintenance effort and impact on the system, as well as the impact that the rewrite will have;
  • The effort and impact of existing adaptations;
  • The difficulty, disadvantages, and advantages of introducing new components to the system.

To make this decision in a healthy manner, the entire development team should be involved so that everyone can participate and collaborate in the decision-making process. It is important that all team members are truly heard, regardless of their position or length of time with the company.

Advantages of Refactoring

Refactoring is a way to restructure the code through small changes aimed at improving its writing and design.

Through refactoring, it is possible to evolve the system over time by introducing new features and improvements without significantly altering the code.

There are three types of refactoring:

  • Database refactoring;
  • Code refactoring;
  • User interface (UI) refactoring.

Refactoring makes it easier to maintain a system and identify its errors, resulting in improved software design and faster programming routines.
Therefore, refactoring is more suitable for highly tactical and small-scale decisions.

However, depending on the error presented by the software, refactoring may not be the best choice. This is because it requires a change in the very essence of the code, which affects many factors within the system.

It's the classic case of fixing one thing and breaking another. For more intense and drastic transformations, rewriting the code is preferable.

By rewriting the code, it is possible to eliminate the specific error without harming other areas of the software or other interconnected systems.

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