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What Is Refactoring?

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Going to Work

When you considered the sample code, what smells did you find? Here is what I saw:

  • Long class

  • Long method

  • Variables could be local to method

  • Useless method comment

  • Could we read template once, instead of each time?

  • The code is tied to using the file system

  • Questionable use of "!=" for string compare

  • Use of StringBuffer without append

  • Reallocating StringBuffer in loop

  • The close() methods are not in catch or finally clause

  • Inconsistent/unclear exception handling

  • Lots of string addition

  • Almost-duplicate code in handling "%CODE%" and "%ALTCODE%"

  • Lots of extraneous new String()s

  • Magic numbers (6 and 9) and symbols

  • Lots of temporary variables

The worst smell is that long substitute() method, so use Extract Method to break it up. Many of the refactorings we use are available online in the catalog at http://www.refactoring.com.

First, pull out readTemplate() as a new method:

String readTemplate() {
  String templateDir = System.getProperty(TEMPLATE_DIR, "");
  StringBuffer sb = new StringBuffer("");
  try {
    FileReader fr=new FileReader(templateDir+"template.html");
    BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(fr);
    String line;
    while(((line=br.readLine())!="")&&line!=null) 
      sb = new StringBuffer(sb + line + "\n");
    br.close();
    fr.close();
  } catch (Exception e) {
  }
  sourceTemplate = new String(sb);
  return sourceTemplate;
}

Even though the change is so simple it could not possibly fail, run the test! (And of course, the first time I ran the test, it failed because I forgot to call my new function, highlighting the importance of the mechanics.)

Notice also that we're not immediately chopping the routine into three or four pieces all at once; we're working one step at a time. We'll develop a steady rhythm: change some code, run the test, change some code, run the test. We never go far without verifying what we've done. If we make a mistake, it must be in the last thing we did.

Let's get the template name in one place (via Introduce Explaining Variable), replacing templateDir with

    String templateName = System.getProperty(TEMPLATE_DIR,"")
        + "template.html";

(Run the test.) Then eliminate the fr variable (Inline Temp):

    BufferedReader br = null;
        ...
    br = new BufferedReader(newFileReader(templateName));

(and drop fr.close().) (Run the test.)

Now we're in a position to fix one of the bugs we noticed: the stream is not properly closed in case of errors.

  try {
    ...
  } catch (Exception ex) {
  } finally {
    if (br != null) try {br.close();} 
        catch (IOException ioe_ignored) {}
  }

(Run the test.)

Next look at another potential problem, the != string test. We verify (by looking around and asking around) that the template reader was not intended to stop at blank lines or anything like that, so this condition is meaningless.

    String line = br.readLine();
    while (line != null) {
        sb = new StringBuffer(sb + line + "\n");
        line = br.readLine();
    }

(Run the test.) Martin Fowler (1999) points out that it is safer to keep bug-fixing and refactoring separate. He would create a new test case to demonstrate the bug, complete refactoring, and only then go back to fix it. In this small example, we'll just proceed with the fixed code.

Consider the assignment to sb. It is redundant: there's no reason to create a new StringBuffer each time, when we can just add to the one we already have. Also, we can use append() to eliminate the string addition (Replace String with StringBuffer).

    sb.append(line);
    sb.append('\n');

(Run the test.)

Instead of sourceTemplate = new String(sb); let's push the work of creating the string onto the StringBuffer: sourceTemplate = sb.toString();. (Run the test.)

The routine both assigns to "sourceTemplate" and returns it. Let's move the responsibility for the assignment to the caller and just return sb.toString() instead. Declare the return type as String. (Reapportion Work between Caller and Callee.) (Run the test.)

For exceptions, let's declare the routine as throwing IOException and delete the empty catch clause; the caller will have to deal with any exceptions. This causes a change (untested! hmm...) in behavior because no partial template will be returned in case of error. We'll confirm by looking and asking whether this is OK. (Run the test.)

Our routine now appears as follows:

String readTemplate() throws IOException {
    String templateName = System.getProperty(TEMPLATE_DIR, "")
                           + "template.html";
    StringBuffer sb = new StringBuffer("");
    BufferedReader br = null;
    try {
        br = new BufferedReader(new FileReader(templateName));
        String line = br.readLine();
        while (line != null) {
            sb.append(line);
            sb.append('\n');
            line = br.readLine();
        }
    } finally {
        if (br != null) try {br.close();} 
                        catch (IOException ioe_ignored) {}
    }
    return sb.toString();
}

The next thing I don't like is that the routine decides both where to find the template and how to read it, leaving it coupled to the file system. This may be a problem in the future (if templates were to come from somewhere else), but it's also a problem now: our test has to use an external file. I'm not sure of the right approach, so we'll defer this problem.

Substitute for "%CODE%"

The routine is still too long. We also still have the near-duplicate code for substitutions.

So next we'll Extract Method for replacing "%CODE%".

String substituteForCode(String template, String reqId) {
  int templateSplitBegin = template.indexOf("%CODE%");
  int templateSplitEnd = templateSplitBegin + 6;
  String templatePartOne = new String(
    template.substring(0, templateSplitBegin));
  String templatePartTwo = new String(
     template.substring(templateSplitEnd, template.length()));
  code = new String(reqId);
  template = new String(templatePartOne+code+templatePartTwo);
  return template;
}

Then we'll adjust the variable declarations left in substitute(). (Run the test.)

The first thing I notice is the string "%CODE%" and the value 6 (the length of the pattern). Pull out the pattern and use it (Replace Magic Number with Calculation).

  String pattern = "%CODE%";
  int templateSplitBegin = template.indexOf(pattern);
  int templateSplitEnd = templateSplitBegin+pattern.length();

(Run the test.)

We create a lot of new Strings too: all those new String() constructions are redundant, because their arguments are Strings already (Remove Redundant Constructor Calls).

String templatePartOne =
      template.substring(0,templateSplitBegin);
  String templatePartTwo =
      template.substring(templateSplitEnd, template.length());
  code = reqId;
  return templatePartOne + code + templatePartTwo;

(Run the test.)

We'll eventually want to address the remaining string addition (on the return statement), but let's take care of "%ALTCODE%" first.

Substitute for "%ALTCODE%"

Let's do the same Extract Method and simplification for the other case, and see where we are.

void substituteForAltcode(String template, String code,
                           PrintWriter out) {
  String pattern = "%ALTCODE%";
  int templateSplitBegin = template.indexOf(pattern);
  int templateSplitEnd = templateSplitBegin+pattern.length();

  String templatePartOne = template.substring(
                0, templateSplitBegin);
  String templatePartTwo = template.substring(
               templateSplitEnd, template.length());
  altcode = code.substring(0,5) + "-" + code.substring(5,8);
  out.print(templatePartOne + altcode + templatePartTwo);
  }

This code is so similar to substituteForCode(), it's clear we should be able to unify the two routines. But there are three diff-erences: they look for different patterns, they substitute different values, and they write to different streams. Drive them toward duplication by passing in the patterns and replacements as arguments (Parameterize Method).

void substituteForAltCode(String template, String pattern,
  String replacement, PrintWriter out) {
  int templateSplitBegin = template.indexOf(pattern);

  int templateSplitEnd = templateSplitBegin+pattern.length();

  String templatePartOne = template.substring(
        0, templateSplitBegin);

  String templatePartTwo = template.substring(
        templateSplitEnd, template.length());
  out.print(templatePartOne + replacement + templatePartTwo);
}
        ...
  altcode = reqId.substring(0,5) + "-" + reqId.substring(5,8);
    substituteForAltCode(template, "%ALTCODE%", altcode, out);

(Run the test.)

We can address the excessive string addition by using a series of print() calls (Replace String Addition with Output), and we'll pull the buffer flush up as well.

    out.print(templatePartOne);
    out.print(replacement);
    out.print(templatePartTwo);
    out.flush();

(Run the test.)

The big difference now is that "%CODE%" results in a String, and "%ALTCODE%" is written to a PrintWriter. These can be reconciled via the class java.io.StringWriter. So make substituteForCode() take an argument PrintWriter out, and create and pass in a new PrintWriter(new StringWriter()) as its stream (Unify String and I/O). (Run the test.)

How did I know to look for a class such as StringWriter? First, I could have talked to a co-worker and found it; there's usually someone who knows the odd corners you don't. (In XP, you start with your pair partner; if your partner doesn't know, the rest of the team is in the same room.) Second, I've used enough systems to know that many have a way to let you treat strings as I/O, and vice versa. Third, I could have learned it when I read once through the core APIs when learning the language. Finally, it is documented and can be found when needed.

We see that the two routines are now identical: eliminate _substituteForAltcode(), and just call substituteForCode() twice (Merge Identical Routines). (Run the test.)

Back to readTemplate()

We were able to verify (by asking our customer) that it would be acceptable to read the template once at startup, rather than once per call to substitute(). We can declare the constructor to throw IOException, and make the call to readTemplate() there.

sourceTemplate = readTemplate(
        System.getProperty(TEMPLATE_DIR, ""));

(Run the test.)

This helps eliminate some strings we would otherwise create.

At last, we can address that old thorn: direct reading of a file to load the template. The readTemplate() routine currently takes a directory name and constructs a file. Instead, we'll pass in a Reader and let that do the work. First pull up construction of the FileReader into the constructor (Reapportion Work between Caller and Callee).

public CodeReplacer() throws IOException {
    String templateName = 
System.getProperty(TEMPLATE_DIR, "") + "template.html";
    sourceTemplate = readTemplate(
                         new FileReader(templateName));
}

public String readTemplate(Reader reader) 
                     throws IOException {
    ...
}

(Run the test.)

Next introduce a constructor that takes a Reader, which the caller is responsible for forming. (They will probably use the getProperty() code that was there before.)

public CodeReplacer(Reader reader) throws IOException {
  sourceTemplate = readTemplate(reader);
}

(Run the test.)

I'll put a testing hat back on and modify my test. We can simplify testTemplateLoadedProperly(), because we no longer need to do a substitution to see the template just to load it. Also, instead of setting up with the file template.html, we'll test using a StringReader. This helps decouple our tests from the environment.

final static String templateContents =
                      "xxx%CODE%yyy%ALTCODE%zzz\n";
        ...
  replacer = new CodeReplacer(new StringReader(
                               templateContents));
        ...
public void testTemplateLoadedProperly() {
  assertEquals(templateContents, replacer.sourceTemplate);
}

(Run the test.)

Finally, the close() call in substitute() is a little out of place. Because the caller of the object opens the stream, we'd like the caller to be responsible for closing the stream as well. We'll modify _substitute() and its callers (Reapportion Work between Caller and Callee).

(Run the test one last time.)

Final Result

Here's the complete new version of CodeReplacer.java:

import java.io.*;
import java.util.*;
/** Replace %CODE% with requested id, and 
%ALTCODE% w/"dashed" version of id.*/

public class CodeReplacer {
    String sourceTemplate;

    public CodeReplacer(Reader reader) throws IOException {
        sourceTemplate = readTemplate(reader);
    }

    String readTemplate(Reader reader) throws IOException {
        BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(reader);
        StringBuffer sb = new StringBuffer();
        try {
            String line = br.readLine();
            while (line!=null) {
                sb.append(line);
                sb.append("\n");
                line = br.readLine();
            }
        } finally {
            try {if (br != null) br.close();} 
           catch (IOException ioe_ignored) {}
        }
        return sb.toString();
    }

    void substituteCode (String template, String pattern,
                         String replacement, Writer out)
                           throws IOException {
        int templateSplitBegin = template.indexOf(pattern);
        int templateSplitEnd = 
             templateSplitBegin + pattern.length();
        out.write(template.substring(0, templateSplitBegin));
        out.write(replacement);
        out.write(template.substring(
                   templateSplitEnd, template.length()));
        out.flush();
    }

    public void substitute(String reqId, PrintWriter out)
                    throws IOException {
        StringWriter templateOut = new StringWriter();
        substituteCode(sourceTemplate, "%CODE%", 
                       reqId, templateOut);

        String altId = reqId.substring(0,5) + "-" + 
                          reqId.substring(5,8);
        substituteCode(templateOut.toString(), "%ALTCODE%",
                       altId, out);
    }
}

Here's CodeReplacerTest.java:

import java.io.*;
import junit.framework.*;

public class CodeReplacerTest extends TestCase {
    final static String templateContents = 
                    "xxx%CODE%yyy%ALTCODE%zzz\n";

    CodeReplacer replacer;

    public CodeReplacerTest(String testName)
    {super(testName);}

    protected void setUp() {
        try {
            replacer = new CodeReplacer(new StringReader(
                                         templateContents));
        } catch (Exception ex) {
            fail("CodeReplacer couldn't load");
        }
    }

    public void testTemplateLoadedProperly() {
        assertEquals(templateContents,
                     replacer.sourceTemplate);
    }

    public void testSubstitution() {
        StringWriter stringOut = new StringWriter();
        PrintWriter testOut = new PrintWriter (stringOut);
        String trackingId = "01234567";
        
        try {
            replacer.substitute(trackingId, testOut);
            testOut.close();
        } catch (IOException ex) {
            fail ("testSubstitution exception - " + ex);
        }

        assertEquals("xxx01234567yyy01234-567zzz\n",
                     stringOut.toString());
    }

}
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