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Refactoring

means improving the structure of software without changing the externally observable behaviour. Each individual refactoring step, for example the introduction of a new method or the renaming of a variable, is small and can therefore be implemented with little risk. However, the positive effect on the design and readability of software after a series of refactoring steps is significant.

A refactoring step is motivated by a so-called code smell. These are signs that indicate a possible change or improvement in the code. Often it is also an accumulation of such signs or smells that motivate a refactoring. A code smell does not necessarily mean a problem or even an error, but it is an indicator that the code should be changed.

Martin Fowler has described the methodical approach very well in his book "Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code". A short overview of the different refactoring patterns can also be found on the book's website.

Good IDEs support automatic refactorings. This saves time and helps to avoid errors. There are also development tools that offer automated refactorings, for example Rector.

Refactoring is an integral part of the Red/Green/Refactor cycle in Test-Driven Development.

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