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Stop Refactoring

June 19th, 2009

Eric Evans provides this interesting commentary while he discusses refactoring targets:

When you encounter a large system that is poorly factored, where do you start? In the XP community, the answer tends to be either one of the these:

  1. Just start anywhere, because it all has to be refactored.
  2. Start wherever it is hurting. I’ll refactor what I need to in order to get my specific task done.

I don’t hold with either of these. The first is impracticable except in a few projects staffed entirely with top programmers. The second tends to pick around the edges, treating symptoms and ignoring the root causes, shying away from the worst tangles. – Domain Driven Design, Eric Evans

I can think of many times where developers (myself included) have really just been gold plating under the guise of refactoring, or other times when refactoring activities contributed superficial cosmetic changes while the real mess lies beneath – getting to the root of the problem requires significantly more time and work than we’re often allocated and the cosmetic changes give us a sense of motion without moving. Then there are the occasions where seemingly superficial refactorings lead to an insightful break through.

Of course Evans isn’t suggesting that we stop refactoring altogether, instead he suggests that we think about what we’re refactoring, and that we focus on the parts of our software that provide the most value – in the context of Domain Driven Design this would be our Core Domain.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: DDD, Software Tags:
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