Agile Zone is brought to you in partnership with:

I am a programmer and architect (the kind that writes code) with a focus on testing and open source; I maintain the PHPUnit_Selenium project. I believe programming is one of the hardest and most beautiful jobs in the world. Giorgio is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 637 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Practical PHP Refactoring: Extract Method

06.13.2011
| 6744 views |
  • submit to reddit

I'm starting a new series: Practical PHP Refactoring. Each article will cover one of the refactorings defined by Fowler in its classic book, applied to PHP code.

Extract Method means creating a new method to contain part of the existing code: it's one of the most basic refactoring that you should be able to perform, just like every chef is able to chop vegetables or to turn on the gas. It's a building block to more complex refactorings.

Many, many issues derive from methods that are (or have become) too long, or that confuse different concepts in the same block of code.

Why should I extract a method?

Extract Method is one of the simplest tool to help encapsulation. It brings a simplification of the scope, since all variables defined inside the method won't be able to pollute the calling code. The refactoring is called Extract Method since it's about object-oriented programming, but Extract Function would have the same meaning.

Extract Method forces you to define a contract with a piece of code, comprehending the inputs (method parameters) and the outputs (a return value). It's not real Design by Contract, but it fits the 80% of the cases.

Finally, an extracted method may be reuses independently from the calling code. Eliminating duplication is one of the driving forces that makes most of refactoring techniques interesting.

Steps

I follow Fowler's recipes, but I will customize it to my style of development (since I write the code samples) and to PHP peculiarities.

1. Create the method, and choose a meaningful name. Thirty seconds spent here can avoid renaming a doSomething() method in thousands of different calls in the future.

A good option may be trying to call it from the point where you want to extract it from, to establish a signature handy for the client (like for TDD). But atferwards, comment the call again, since these steps must not break anything. We should go from a green state to another green state.

2. Copy the extracted code into to the new method. Scan it and fix variable references:

  • variables existing prior to the call become the method parameters.
  • Variables that are created in the block of code, and used afterwards, are part of the return value. Typically this is only one variable, but if there is more than one you can wrap them in an object or (temporarily) in an associative array.
  • Local variables may now be hidden inside the method: they are not referenced outside the code and PHP will garbage-collect them when the method finishes (if they are not referenced anymore, of course).

3. Replace original code with a call to the method.

4. Perform renamings or refactorings inside the extracted method.

Example

The code sample shows you the various steps applied to running PHP code. I also provide a test, since I already use it to check the refactoring has gone well.

We start from a method that mixes regular expressions with date formatting:

<?php
class ExtractMethodTest extends PHPUnit_Framework_TestCase
{
    public function testMethodExtractionShouldNotMakeThisTestFail()
    {
        $logParser = new LogParser();
        $logLine = '127.0.0.1 - - [04/30/2011:17:07:31 +0200] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404 450 "-" "Mozilla"';
        $day = $logParser->getDayOfTheWeek($logLine);
        $this->assertEquals('On Saturday we got a visit', $day);
    }
}

class LogParser
{
    public function getDayOfTheWeek($logLine)
    {
        preg_match('([0-9]{2}/[0-9]{2}/[0-9]{4})', $logLine, $matches);
        $extractedDate = $matches[0];
        $date = new DateTime($extractedDate);
        return 'On ' . $date->format('l') . ' we got a visit';
    }
}

We extract a method, and in the TDD style we do just as much as it takes to keep a green test. We call this method from the old code immediately: this is the bigger step.

<?php
class ExtractMethodTest extends PHPUnit_Framework_TestCase
{
    public function testMethodExtractionShouldNotMakeThisTestFail()
    {
        $logParser = new LogParser();
        $logLine = '127.0.0.1 - - [04/30/2011:17:07:31 +0200] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404 450 "-" "Mozilla"';
        $day = $logParser->getDayOfTheWeek($logLine);
        $this->assertEquals('On Saturday we got a visit', $day);
    }
}

class LogParser
{
    public function getDayOfTheWeek($logLine)
    {
        $date = $this->getDate($logLine);
        return 'On ' . $date->format('l') . ' we got a visit';
    }

    function getDate($logLine)
    {
        preg_match('([0-9]{2}/[0-9]{2}/[0-9]{4})', $logLine, $matches);
        $extractedDate = $matches[0];
        $date = new DateTime($extractedDate);
        return $date;
    }
}

Finally, we refine the extracted method, deciding its scope, adding a docblock and eliminating temporary, explanatory variables now rendered useless by the simplicity of this method.

<?php
class ExtractMethodTest extends PHPUnit_Framework_TestCase
{
    public function testMethodExtractionShouldNotMakeThisTestFail()
    {
        $logParser = new LogParser();
        $logLine = '127.0.0.1 - - [04/30/2011:17:07:31 +0200] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404 450 "-" "Mozilla"';
        $day = $logParser->getDayOfTheWeek($logLine);
        $this->assertEquals('On Saturday we got a visit', $day);
    }
}

class LogParser
{
    public function getDayOfTheWeek($logLine)
    {
        $date = $this->getDate($logLine);
        return 'On ' . $date->format('l') . ' we got a visit';
    }

    /**
     * @return DateTime
     */
    private function getDate($logLine)
    {
        preg_match('([0-9]{2}/[0-9]{2}/[0-9]{4})', $logLine, $matches);
        return new DateTime($matches[0]);
    }
}
Published at DZone with permission of Giorgio Sironi, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)