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by Brian Schrader

Easy Refactoring with Source Making

Posted on Tue, 19 Jul 2016 at 11:58 AM

If you haven't heard of Source Making, you should check them out. They have a lot of really great and simple tips and tricks to help developers write good code and refactor bad code, and they have lots of practical examples for each of their techniques.

Here's two of my favorite tips:

Replace Conditional with Polymorphism

  • This technique adheres to the Tell-Don't-Ask principle: instead of asking an object about its state and then performing actions based on this, it is much easier to simply tell the object what it needs to do and let it decide for itself how to do that.

  • Removes duplicate code. You get rid of many almost identical conditionals.

  • If you need to add a new execution variant, all you need to do is add a new subclass without touching the existing code (Open/Closed Principle).

Replace Nested Conditional with Guard Clauses

Problem You have a group of nested conditionals and it is hard to determine the normal flow of code execution.

Solution Isolate all special checks and edge cases into separate clauses and place them before the main checks. Ideally, you should have a "flat" list of conditionals, one after the other.

In regards to the first tip, I find myself falling into the trap of if/elsing though a list of cases just to determine what to do next, or what state to alter. Unfortunately, a lot of Python libraries are guilty of this practice. Replacing each of the cases with concrete subclasses would definitely help developers keep track of the various code paths, all while making the code cleaner.

In keeping with the second tip, one of my favorite features of Swift is its Guard statement. It keeps the normal execution logic clean, while still allowing the developer to handle rare, or extraordinary cases easily.

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