In the world of software development, features are constantly updated and new functionality is continuously added. Gradually, keeping up with the latest and best coding standards becomes complex. This slows can slow down operations and affect how code is maintained and updated. The act of maintaining and modernizing code is done through a process called code refactoring. In this article, we will talk about C++ refactoring and how it helps improve Visual Studio productivity.
Table of Contents
What Is C++ Refactoring?
Refactoring is the process of improving or updating existing code without changing the functionality of the program. In the process of refactoring, you can improve the design, structure, and implementation of the software, and clean up unnecessary dependencies, code duplications, and other types of confusion.
In software development, development teams are constantly extending the code and adding new functionalities. Over time, the quality of the code can deteriorate, which causes difficulties in its understanding and the occurrence of errors. Code refactoring makes it possible to improve the readability of the code, simplify it, create a modern architecture, simplify the maintenance process, and reduce the number of errors.
What Are The Advantages Of C++ Refactoring?
- Making code easier to understand and analyze.
- Simplifying the addition of new functionality to software results in increased development efficiency.
- Improvement of software architecture.
- Optimizing resource usage.
- Increased security.
- Productivity improvement.
- Simplifying the process of finding and fixing errors.
- Reducing the number of errors.
When Should We Start Refactoring A Code?
For effective refactoring, the developers must be familiar with the code. In addition, to avoid errors in the refactoring process, it is important to have sufficient code coverage with automated tests.
You should think about code refactoring in the following cases:
- The code is hard to understand. In this case, the process of updating the code and finding errors becomes longer, and it is possible to create duplicates, unnecessary dependencies, and even more complexity of the code.
- Software slowdown. When the code is complex and has many dependencies, it can slow down the software. This leads to dissatisfaction among end users who may refuse to use it.
- The presence of a large number of errors in the code. If the code is complex and confusing, the debugging process becomes much more difficult. Fixing one error may cause others to appear. To avoid this, it is important to refactor the code to simplify it as much as possible.
- Code duplication. Each element of the program must be unique. If there are duplications in the code, it increases the time to read it and makes it difficult to understand, as well as increases the probability of errors.
What Are C++ Refactoring Best Practices?
- Before refactoring, it is important to cover the code with automated tests.
- Refactor incrementally, making small changes to the code while keeping the program in a working state.
- Separate the processes of refactoring and creation of new functionality. No new features should be added during refactoring.
- The result of refactoring should be simpler and more understandable code.
- For testing a few refactoring iterations, use not only unit tests but manual testing too.
- Follow the coding standard used by your company.
- Remove deprecated code such as dynamic exception specification.
How To Refactor Code Easily?
Visual Assist is a productivity extension for Visual Studio that provides advanced code refactoring tools, quick navigation, rendering, correction, code maintenance, and code inspection functions. Using the Visual Assist C++ extension, you can easily improve code readability, simplify it, and fix broken code. You can refactor separate class or several dependent classes simultaneously.
How To Access Refactoring Commands?
You can access the refactoring commands in several ways:
- Go to the desired symbol and open the context-sensitive quick action and refactoring menu using the Shift+Alt+Q short keys.
- Use the context menu of the text editor to open a complete list of refactoring commands.
- Place the cursor over the desired symbol to display the icon, then click the icon to open the context menu.
How To Change The Signature Of A Method?
Visual Assist allows you to change the method name, return type, visibility, names, types, number, and order of parameters in a simple dialog box. Automatic signature change is possible in all inherited and overridden methods, as well as in all method references.
How To Encapsulate The Field?
With Visual Assist, you can create accessors to a member field by encapsulating the field. Accessories are created and assigned automatically. You can create accessor methods next to the declaration in the header file and can stay in the header file or implement them in the source file.
How To Extract The Method?
You can quickly simplify long methods and make them easier to read and understand. To do this, highlight the required code segment and call the Extract Method refactoring. Visual Assist automatically detects the method signature, moves the selected code segment into the new method, and replaces the segment with a call to the new method.
How To Move Implementation?
In C/C++, you can easily move a method implementation from the source to the header file and vice versa. To do this, select the desired method, call up the refactoring context menu, and select the move command.
In addition, it is possible to move all methods from the header file to the source file in one operation. To do this, call the move command from the class name. This will bring up a dialog where you can select the methods you want to move.
How To Rename?
Visual Assist provides the ability to quickly and accurately rename symbol definitions and declarations, all references to them, and occurrences in comments and lines in the active project and throughout the solution. You can rename classes, enums, fields, macros, methods, method parameters, and variables. To do this, choose Rename from the refactoring menu, specify a new name, and use the preview to determine which occurrences of the symbol need to be renamed.
You can also rename the document and related files without breaking the build. Visual Assist automatically updates files, projects, and solutions and then propagates the renames through source control systems that integrate with Microsoft Visual Studio.
How to automatically inspect your code?
Visual Assist provides a function to check the code for certain quality issues based on LLVM Clang tidy. It diagnoses and corrects common programming errors, such as style violations, misuse of the interface, and errors that can be detected by static analysis. The code inspection function runs in a process separate from the Visual Studio process. This avoids reducing IDE performance.
Enable code inspection in the Visual Assist options to highlight code issues in the Visual Studio text editor. Code inspections will appear as a blue line on the line where an issue is found. You can click on this to accept the suggestion. You can also scan an entire file and make batch edits.
Here are some of the code inspection checks available in Visual Assist. If you want the complete list, head on over the list of code inspections.
|Code Inspection||LLVM/Clang Equivalent
|Calling std::move() when it is not needed||performance-move-const-arg|
|Check emptiness with empty() instead of size()||readability-container-size-empty|
|Constructor of shared_pointer can be replaced with make_shared||modernize-make-shared|
|Constructor of unique_ptr can be replaced with make_unique||modernize-make-unique|
|Escaped string literal can be written as raw string literal||modernize-raw-string-literal|
|Find bug-prone usage of string comparison functions||bugprone-suspicious-string-compare|
|Find manually-defined constructor definitions that do not initialize all fields||cppcoreguidelines-pro-type-member-init|
Are you interested in how to improve developer productivity in Visual Studio using Visual Assist and C++ refactoring? Download a free trial of Visual Assist today.