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<   No. 687   2004-12-13   >

Comic #687

1 Shakespeare: {at Mercutio's desk} Mercutio, do you have a minute?
2 Mercutio: Just a second, Will. I'm refactoring some of my code.
3 Shakespeare: What does that mean?
4 Mercutio: It means I'm rewriting it the way it should have been written in the first place, but it sounds cooler.

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Refactoring is a process used in computer programming, wherein the structure of the code is changed to improve its readability, maintainability, and extensibility without changing what it actually does.

Having been a programmer, I know this is indeed an important and useful step in software development. I just think the neospeak name for it is used too much as a cool-sounding buzzword.

2014-01-08 Rerun commentary: I noticed the old link above to a page at an obscure site called (Cunningham & Cunningham, apparently - a long defunct programming consultancy), and figured it might have vanished by now. But no, that old page is still there. And what's more, it came up as the third hit in Google when I searched for "refactoring"!

Nowadays I'd just link to Wikipedia instead. Although who knows where Wikipedia links will be in another ten years. (And the information about refactoring on is a bit more entertaining.)

EDIT: I am informed that the "obscure" website was founded by Ward Cunningham, who is known for inventing the first ever wiki - a website that allows a broad range of people (rather than just the website creator) to add and modify content. His idea later led to Wikipedia, and many other collaborative content creation projects. His website, was, in fact, the very first wiki ever, and therefore a direct precursor to Wikipedia.

So what I wrote above about linking to Wikipedia instead is somewhat ironic.

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