Code refactoring is a specialized process integral to software development, involving the review and modification of existing code without altering its core functionality. The primary objective of this practice is to enhance code efficiency, ensuring it remains user-friendly, requires minimal edits, and is amenable to future modifications. In the realm of software quality assurance (QA), code refactoring plays a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth and robust testing process.
Main Techniques and Guidelines for Effective Code Refactoring
Various techniques have evolved over time to facilitate efficient code refactoring:
This widely used technique, often favored by Agile software development and testing teams, follows a three-step process:
Define the necessary changes.
Execute basic testing to identify issues.
Implement improvements as required.
Refactoring by Abstraction:
Ideal for large-scale refactoring efforts, this method helps reduce code volume by eliminating duplicate subclasses and simplifying class hierarchies. It includes:
Pull-Up/Push-Down: Dividing a class into two, one linked to the superclass and the other to the subclass.
Pull-Up: Consolidating code in a superclass to address duplication.
Push Down: Transferring code from a superclass to a subclass.
In cases where developers have overcomplicated code with hard-to-change or reformat methods, this method analyzes code for unnecessary duplication. It encompasses built-in refactoring and code extraction processes.
Removing outdated or redundant code while optimizing logical structures, this method streamlines conditional expressions and ensures proper method structuring.
Preparatory Code Refactoring:
Conducted when programmers identify the need for code refactoring while adding new functions or parameters, this process essentially constitutes a holistic software update rather than a standalone refactoring task.
Influence of Code Refactoring on the Software QA Process
The impact of code refactoring on the software QA process is substantial and multifaceted. Here’s how it affects both manual and automated QA engineers:
Manual QA Engineers:
Extensively test the product from an end-user perspective.
Conduct regression testing to ensure new changes do not break existing functionality.
Repeatedly perform the above two tasks with each refactoring iteration.
Automated QA Engineers:
Face complexities as code refactoring may cause automated scripts to contain errors, such as changes in object locations.
Engage in technical tasks, such as adapting Selenium or other testing tools to accommodate post-refactoring changes.
Why Software QA Engineers Should Be Familiar with Code Refactoring
Understanding code refactoring is vital for various QA roles:
Unit Testers/Developers: Benefit from code refactoring by upgrading CSS classes and adding new code. New unit tests emerge, while old ones may become obsolete.
Testers: Carry out exhaustive and regression testing during code refactoring, checking functionality across user groups. For instance, in an online shop, this includes testing for both shop assistants and customers.
Automation Test Engineers: May encounter issues in automated test scenarios due to code changes, necessitating script adjustments.
Test Leads/QA Leads: Require technical communication with developers, analysts, and clients. A grasp of the technical aspects of program functionality is crucial for creating comprehensive business plans and ensuring successful refactoring.
Approaching code refactoring should adhere to the principle of moderation. It is not necessary to analyze the entire codebase at once; instead, start with the most critical and complex sections, gradually addressing simpler tasks. Timely and high-quality code refactoring is the linchpin of creating reliable software products that deliver optimal performance to end-users. In the dynamic landscape of software development, mastering code refactoring is an indispensable skill for all QA professionals.