Code Smells

Michael L. Collard, Ph.D.

Department of Computer Science, The University of Akron

Code Smell

Code Smell Categories

Category: Bloaters

An entity that has grown so large or long that it can't be effectively handled

  • Long Method
  • Large Class
  • Primitive Obsession
  • Long Parameter List
  • Data Clumps

Long Method

Too much code in one method

  • Hinders: comprehension, reuse
  • Good naming creates an abstraction
  • Main Refactoring: Extract Function
  • Supporting Refactorings: Replace Temp with Query, Introduce Parameter Object, Preserve Whole Object

Large Class

Classes that have too many fields (instance variables), i.e., store too much state

  • Don't confuse with a single field that is a container
  • Hinders: non-duplicated code
  • Main Refactorings: Extract Class, Extract Subclass multiple times
  • Supporting Refactoring: Extract Interface

Primitive Obsession

Primitive Obsession

Use of primitive types when an object is needed, e.g., array, Money, Data, etc.

  • Hinders: comprehension, reuse
  • Main Refactoring: Replace Data Value with Object, Replace Type Code with {Class, Subclasses, State/Strategy}
  • For many fields: Extract Class
  • For many parameters: Introduce Parameter Object
  • For arrays: Replace Array with Object

Primitive Obsession

Long Parameter Lists

  • Difficult to use a call or get parameters in the correct order
  • Difficult to read and interpret what the call does
  • Has boolean parameters
  • Has optional, null parameters

Long Parameter Lists

Too many parameters

  • Functionality is wrong, or not enough use of fields
  • Hinders: comprehension, use, adding parameters
  • Main Refactoring: Replace Parameter with Method, Preserve Whole Object, Introduce Parameter Object

Data Clumps

Data Clumps

Bunches of data that always hang around together

  • Hinders: comprehension, reuse
  • For fields: Extract Class
  • For method signatures: Introduce Parameter Object, Preserve Whole Object

Category: Object-Orientation Abusers

Where code does not fully exploit the possibilities of object-oriented design

  • Switch Statements
  • Temporary Field
  • Refused Bequest
  • Alternative Classes with Different Interfaces


Switch Statements

Most switch statements should be replaced by polymorphism

  • Hinders: comprehension, reuse
  • Secondary Refactorings: Extract Method, Move Method
  • Main Refactorings: Replace Type Code with {Subclasses, State/Strategy}, Replace Conditional with Polymorphism
  • When polymorphism is overkill: Replace Parameter with Explicit Methods
  • Case is Null: Introduce Null Object

Ref: Replace Type Code with Subclasses

Temporary Field

Field which is only set/used in certain situations

  • Hinders: comprehension, reuse
  • Main Refactorings: Extract Class, Introduce Null Object

Refused Bequest

Refused Bequest

Subclass doesn't use all the inherited methods or data

  • Hinders: comprehension, reuse
  • Check Hierarchy: Push Down Method, Push Down Field
  • Reusing behavior, but not reusing interface: Replace Inheritance with Delegation

Alternative Classes with Different Interfaces

Alternative Classes with Different Interfaces

Classes that are similar on the inside but differ on the outside

  • Hinders: comprehension, reuse
  • Main Refactoring: Rename Method
  • For a class that is not doing enough: Move Method

Category: Change-Preventers

Hinder further changing or developing the system

  • Divergent Change
  • Shotgun Surgery
  • Parallel Inheritance Hierarchies

Divergent Change

One class is commonly changed in different ways for different purposes (i.e., feature changes)

  • Typically when, each change is a set of methods.
  • Hinders: comprehension, reuse
  • Main Refactoring: Extract Class

Shotgun Surgery

When a change is made to a system, lots of little changes have to be performed in many classes.

  • Opposite of Divergent Change
  • Want a 1-1 link between (feature) changes and classes
  • Hinders: comprehension, reuse
  • Try: Move Method, Move Field

Parallel Inheritance Hierarchies (UML)

Parallel Inheritance Hierarchies (Code)

Parallel Inheritance Hierarchies

Every time you create a subclass in one hierarchy, you have to create a subclass in another hierarchy

  • Often common prefix names
  • Hinders: comprehension, reuse
  • Main Refactorings: Move Method, Move Field

Category: Dispensables

Code or classes that should be removed

  • Lazy Class
  • Data Class
  • Duplicate Code
  • Dead Code
  • Speculative Generality

Lazy Class

Lazy Class

A class that is not doing enough

  • Hinders: comprehension, reuse
  • Main Refactorings: Collapse Hierarchy, Inline Class

Data Class

Data Class

Classes with fields, getters, and setters, but nothing else

  • Hinders: comprehension, reuse
  • Main Refactoring: Move Function

Duplicate Code

  • Hinders: comprehension, maintenance
  • Main Refactorings: Extract Method, Pull Up Field, Form Template Method, Substitute Algorithm

Dead Code

Program entity (class, method, parameter, code fragment, statement, variable) that is unused in the system.

  • Hinders: comprehension, maintenance
  • Just delete the code

Speculative Generality

Code that was over-generalized in an attempt to predict future needs

  • Hinders: comprehension, maintenance
  • Abstract classes that aren't doing much: Collapse Hierarchy
  • Remove unnecessary delegation: Inline Class
  • Methods with unused parameters: Remove Parameter
  • Methods with odd abstract names: Rename Method

Category: Couplers

Lowering coupling, and problems that you get when trying to do so

  • Feature Envy
  • Inappropriate Intimacy
  • Message Chains
  • Middle Man

Feature Envy

One method is too interested in other classes

  • Hinders: comprehension, maintenance

Inappropriate Intimacy

Two classes that are too tightly coupled to each other

  • Hinders: comprehension, maintenance

Message Chains

Message Chains

A class needs data from another class and has to go through a long chain of calls to get to it

  • Hinders: comprehension, maintenance

Middle Man

Middle Man

A class exists just to delegate to another class

  • Hinders: comprehension, maintenance
  • If the only purpose of a class is to delegate to another class, does it need to exist? What is the real purpose of the class?
  • Make sure a class justifies its existence. If a class cannot be justified, remove it.
  • Sometimes, the result of refactorings which moved all logic out of a class