Stop Telling Me To Refactor post

December 14th, 2014

I got an email from Daniele earlier this morning about the post I did talking about how web acceptance tools suck and they were kind enough to share their thoughts on how they felt I was (to use their words) "facing the problem in the wrong way".

They went on to describe how I should just separate the front-end from the back-end to make testing the app as a whole easier. They shared a link to a project where they had done that so go take a look.

I don't find much wrong with that approach but it has a hole in it big enough to throw my ego through without scraping the sides. Daniele, this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with a mind set that continually comes up in our industry.

The incredible casualness with which we tell people that the solution to all their problems is to refactor things.

Just stop it. Stop telling me that. Stop telling other people that. It reflects that you have given no thought to the other person's situation. Do they have the time to refactor? Do they have permission to refactor? Are they even skilled enough to refactor the app in such a way to make it better? These are all legitimate questions. Blindly recommending refactoring isn't the solution.

In my case for my current work-related activities, there is zero chance we will be doing the kind of refactoring that Daniele is very-helpfully recommending. Why? The application in question works and brings in money. So the app in it's current form needs to stay up and keep working. So that means I need to find the least-invasive way possible to test the application's UI.

There are other refactorings I am doing (moving the app from ZF1 to ZF2 is among them) but those take time and have to ensure the existing application doesn't crash and burn due to those changes. I suspect I may be ending up buying a bunch of over-worked QA people in Kiev a nice thank-you present when they finish the extensive testing I need them to do.

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