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Weeks 5 & 6 – The big refactor

Skills Demonstrated
– Integration Testing
– Refactoring Legacy Code

So week 5 was the tail end of front-end fortnight, what is that you ask? Well I can tell you in layman’s terms as I was the only one in the whole team who had no involvement with it. Our team had two weeks to figure out which front-end framework they would use for the foreseeable future. That left me pretty much to my own devices for the duration. That meant choices for me – there is always something to fix in choices.

The more astute of my readers will have noticed that this blog post covers two weeks. These few weeks have left my blogging ability rather diminished. But I digress.

It is now where I would like to link to you my managers recent blog post “Zen and the Art of Legacy Camp Site Cleaning”. I paraphrase: “Bolting unit tests onto legacy code is pretty much impossible. Untested legacy code which has been chugging along without issue should not be rewritten. The trick is to leave the campsite cleaner than you found it”. There were two incomprehensible behemoth functions in the options controller totalling about 400 lines. Much like choices, 70% of the universe consists of dark energy. No physicist can explain what dark energy is, or how it got there; only what it does. This is where integration tests come in handy. Unlike in unit testing, the controller communicates with fake databases called fixtures. This allowed me to give this pile of code a data set and then examine how it was digested at the other end. I assumed the add and edit functions worked before I touched them and proceeded to make many integration tests using this method. It was important that I had good code coverage in the tests before starting the cleaning process. Good testing allowed for quick refactoring thanks to immediate feedback.

Since pushing choices to live, we’ve had even more requests from users. And so it goes on. A user found a bug where the ‘all pages’ button on the paginator was dysfunctional. The code for the all button was commented out, it appeared as though somebody couldn’t get it to work but then forgot to remove the button from the view. The fix was actually simple. They tried setting the options per page limit to 1000 to make the all button work. This would have worked but there is a sneaky cake setting called ‘max-limit’ which is set to 100 by default, this overrode the 1000 limit.

There are few more things which I fixed and implemented on choices this week. But this blog post is already getting rather long for my liking, and most likely yours so this is it for now.

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