That is the question. If you’re not sure of the best way to revitalize your application, you’re not alone. Altering and updating code is a unique skill set that even many experienced developers don’t develop.
But if you’re considering rewriting or refactoring your mobile app code, you probably have a solid reason to do it. Let’s put the idea to rest that there’s a clear-cut, definitive rule about what’s the best choice. Every project is different.
There are often ways to make an app run and load faster. But boosting performance or adding in new features often leaves app owners with a tough choice.
To assist, we’re breaking down refactoring vs rewriting. This article has everything you need to make an informed decision for your project with definitions, pros, cons, the questions you should ask, and what to consider.
You’ve probably heard of code refactoring before. However, it’s a concept with many definitions. And it can be complex to describe based on what you’re doing and the technical expertise of whom you ask. For our purposes, we’ll keep things at the most basic level and not dig into the technical caveats.
Refactoring is updating the code of an app. Typically, this involves restructuring things so that future updates are easier to implement. Developers can reduce the complexity of the code and even use new technology or updated versions of third-party libraries to refactor.
There may be some rewriting involved on a small scale. But a developer will usually only adjust functionality on a system-by-system basis to work with updated architecture.
One of the biggest misunderstandings around refactoring is that you’ll reach an endpoint where the app’s structure is perfect. But refactoring can get messy. You should view it as more of a technique for development as opposed to a completed design.
As stated, the definition of refactoring shifts based on what you want to accomplish. It can range from fixing a specific system in an app all the way to a full-on cleanup. For this article, we’ll define it simply as taking code and making it better.
Coming up with a definition for rewriting is more straightforward. As the title of the article states, it’s rewriting an application from scratch or taking an application and writing it as you want it. But let’s break that down a little more.
When a developer rewrites, they take the coding process from a blank slate and build something new. There are no limitations from existing code — no refactoring. And a developer can implement newer technology or third-party libraries directly into the newly written architecture.
It’s a clean slate with no legacy code — leftover code to update. And it’s possible to use new frameworks and code language from the start. It’s also an opportunity for a developer to avoid previous mistakes and develop and test with fresh eyes.
Many developers may encourage rewriting as it presents an opportunity to start fresh without having to fix previous mistakes. However, rewriting comes with its own set of challenges. Even waited 16 years before rewriting the original site from PHP to their own proprietary language.
There are a lot of pros and cons, but there’s no definitive answer. With that in mind, let’s look at the things to consider when thinking about refactoring or rewriting from scratch.
No matter how clear the plans are for a rewrite, there are no guarantees everything will work perfectly. It always takes longer to rewrite an app than it does to refactor it. Therefore, time and cost should be key considerations when choosing whether to refactor or rewrite.
When refactoring, a developer can continue to support the current application for your users while refactoring the code. This actually goes in the ‘pros’ column for refactoring. But if you want to rewrite a code, you’ll need to divert resources to the development of the new application. If you don’t have the resources to support the legacy app while rewriting the new one, this can be an issue to consider.
Functionality between systems doesn’t always work, so it’s a key consideration when choosing refactoring or rewriting. If you want to use a new library or technology in your app, but it doesn’t translate to the old application, the project already made your choice.
If you’re considering rewriting or refactoring a mobile application, it can be an overwhelming experience. Hopefully, the information in this article can help you lean towards the best choice for your needs.
But if you’re still unsure, contact PURPLE! We make software development easy, and our team is ready to help you make the best choice for your business.