Code Refactoring : Why Is It Crucial For Software Testers

Software development involves one of the major key terms which is essential for the testers. This key term is known as Code Refactoring.

We’ll take a closer look at this technique and how important it is to know. What are the benefits associated with code refactoring? And most importantly why testers need to know about it?
What Exactly is Code Refactoring?
Basically, software normally fails when it becomes so complex that it can no longer provide additional features while remaining error-free. Code refactoring is used to improve code design to make it easier to understand and extend.
It is the process of modifying the code without actually modifying the functionality of that code.
If you believe a feature may be needed in the future and your current code won’t easily be able to accommodate it, you refactor that code to make it easier to add that feature now rather than worrying about what you need to change with your code to add the feature later.
Why There is a Need For Refactor?
By moving duplicate code, you remove the amount of code and hence, the less code that you have the easier it is to modify as well as to understand.
If you’ve looked at huge programs and tried to understand how they work by writing understandable codes, you will be able to easily modify the code using the process of code refactoring.
This will enable you to understand the system better. This would come into play if you were given someone else’s code. Very often, you can look at that code and not have any idea what’s going on, but if you go in and refactor it on your own, you’ll completely understand of how the system works.
By better understanding the system, the easier it will be to spot bugs.
Moreover, if you’re writing understandable codes, refactoring will help you to write these codes quicker.
Adding the features in source code usually takes a lot of time and tries to fix bugs by going back repetitively.
Therefore, instead of adding features to your code, try to go back and understand the code better which will help you to get rid of bugs. Not only this, it also makes code easy to read by minimizing the complex conditional logic and eliminating duplications.
Many people think refactoring only deals with forcing design patterns into your code, this is absolutely not true. However, that is what you spend a lot of your time doing. Creating a better design is the simple goal of refactoring.
Types of Code Refactoring
There are many techniques of code refactoring, but we’ll discuss only few which are commonly used and easy to learn. Following are the types of code refactoring:
1. Preparatory Refactoring: While creating an application, there are certain aspects which testers can use in their codes to make it effortless while building new features for their code. This feature is called preparatory refactoring. While adding a new feature in the code, the existing code might be structured in such a way that makes it difficult for them to add new features. With the help of this technique, they can first refactor the structure of the code which makes it easier for them to add new features.  
 2. Red-Green Refactoring: This approach of refactoring helps the testers to build a test suite, write codes and modify their code in a short period of time. This type of refactoring is based on Test-Driven Development where testers first writes tests and then uses these tests to modify and develop software applications. It can be broken into three phases:

  • Red: This is the first stage of the Red-Green-Refactor In this phase, the tester generally writes a test that informs the implementation of a feature. Only if the exceptions are met, the test will pass.
  • Green: The green phase is where the tester will implement codes to ensure the test pass. The main purpose is to find an optimal solution without modifying the implementation.
  • Refactor: This stage is the final stage of the cycle which involves the thinking and how a developer/tester can implement ideas to improve the code with better efficiency.

3. Composing Methods Refactoring: In most cases, the code can be extremely long and repetitive. This may cause difficulties in understanding the logic of the code and thus becomes harder to change. This refactoring technique will eliminate every repetitive code, or remove any other streamline This will help the tester to easily understand the logic and look for any other improvements.
4. Simplifying Conditional Expressions Refactoring: Conditional expressions can sometimes become more complicated which also complicates their logic over time. This approach of refactoring will simplify the conditional expressions which eventually turn the code simple and understandable. The logic behind complicated conditional expressions becomes clearer and it is easier for the tester to understand logic better.
Benefits of Using Code Refactoring
There are various benefits that are associated with the use of code refactoring. These benefits are mentioned below:

  • Efficient Process: Using this technique eliminates the efforts that are needed in the future while modifying or adding any new features to the code which eventually improves efficiency.
  • Eliminates Complexity: It helps in the reduction of complexity thus makes it easier for you and your team to work on a development
  • Sustainability: Code refactoring usually organizes and creates clear codes that are easy to read and understand. Thus, it helps in maintaining a properly structured code which is ready for an improvement in the future.
  • Easy to Read and Understand: No doubt, code refactoring will make it easy for people to read and understand the code more effectively.
  • Understand the Concept Better: When there is only one method which handles all the functionality of the process, there are chances that it becomes exceptionally complex to understand. If the process is broken down into parts it is easy to understand what actually is really being done. This can be achieved through the use of code refactoring.

Why does a Tester need to Know About Code Refactoring?
 As the term code refactoring has been discussed in brief, we’ll look for the further important question which needs an answer. Thus, discussed below is the answer to the question, why a tester needs to know about refactoring?
1. For Unit Testers: Refactoring the code means adding of new code and updating different elements of the code. Such as new classes are being added, old classes, are being updated which leads to failure of existing unit testing. Thus, the Unit tester needs to create and set up new unit tests for these updated classes.
2. For Testers: When the code is refactored (considering there is no addition of new features) the functionality of the code remains the same for the end users. For testers, to test a refactored code usually means to use comprehensive testing and regression testing. In comprehensive testing, the tester will ensure whether the functionality of the code is working as before or not and In regression testing, tester ensures whether the updated code has affected the functionality of the code or not.
3. For Automation Test Engineers: The functional and non-functional automation scripts may face failure if the code is refactored. This may occur because the selenium automation which tester uses, rely on the page objects. If these page objects are updated during refactoring procedure it may cause the failure in an automation To overcome this failure, it is recommended for automation testers that functional automation tests should only be conducted when the feature of code has become stable otherwise, there would be a lot of rework.
 4. For Test Leads: Test leads usually work together with the development team, product analyst and stakeholders to ensure proper test planning of the projects is done carefully. Therefore, it is important to ensure the proper documentation and functioning of the product, user flows, user acceptance tests or business cases. If the code is refactored, these scenarios need to be validated with the help of regression testing of the affected functionality.
Use of Refactoring Technique for Testers
Refactoring can be important for testers too, here are a few reasons to illustrate why it is important for testers to use refactoring techniques.

  • Testers ensure the proper testing of the functionality of the application. As the test written by testers is code too, it is necessary for testers to use refactoring technique to simplify their complex code.
  • The test code written by testers should be easily understandable and readable. Using code refactoring , the tester can use better expressions which make it easier for other testers to understand the test code.
  • As the develop uses code refactoring to make their code easier to update, in the same way, testers can also use this technique to make their test easy to update.

app testing
To summarize above details, learning code refactoring can be beneficial for the testers to improve their test cases as well as to make proper test procedure for developer’s refactored code.

Also Read : TestCafe vs Selenium : Which is better?