However, such code often takes on a life of its own, despite casual structure and poor or non-existent documentation. It works, so why fix it? When a related problem arises, the quickest way to address it might be to expediently modify this working code, rather than design a proper, general program from the ground up.
So far refactoring tools have appeared for a number of languages. After Smalltalk's lead, we've seen several tools for Java and a couple for C.
Such difficulties don't stop the determined for long, however, and Ralph Johnson has been determined to continue the good tradition of refactoring work at UIUC. His description was dominated by the difficulties of dealing with the C pre-processor, particular conditional compilation and macros.
The essential problem is that accurate refactoring operates on the abstract syntax tree AST of the program, but macros distance the program text from the AST. As a result a C refactoring tool needs to build a macro-aware AST which holds within it the variants of the AST that would be compiled.
It's hairy work but Alejandra has had some success, including reading in source to the Linux kernel as part of the testing for the research tool.
It's still too early to have programmers all over the world using tools to refactor their C, but those of you that are interested might enjoy a dip into the C Refactory website. It contains a bunch of papers by Alejandra and Ralph, and describes how to get on a mailing list to find out more about this this work.
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Also, if you play board games, auction theory explains why fixing game imbalance via an auction mechanism is non-trivial and often makes the game worse. from Bill Opdyke, who did the first thesis on srmvision.com thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, 5 William F. Opdyke, Refactoring object-oriented frameworks, University of Illinois at Bill Opdyke PhD.
All this despite the fact that the first refactoring thesis was done by Bill Opdyke, who's background is in C++. There are several reasons for this, including the sheer complexity of the C++ language.
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