Refactoring with tests in Python: a practical example

This post contains a step-by-step example of a refactoring session guided by tests. When dealing with untested or legacy code refactoring is dangerous and tests can help us do it the right way, minimizing the amount of bugs we introduce, and possibly completely avoiding them.

Refactoring is not easy. It requires a double effort to understand code that others wrote, or that we wrote in the past, and moving around parts of it, simplifying it, in one word improving it, is by no means something for the faint-hearted. Like programming, refactoring has its rules and best practices, but it can be described as a mixture of technique, intuition, experience, risk.

Programming, after all, is craftsmanship.

The starting point

The simple use case I will use for this post is that of a service API that we can access, and that produces data in JSON format, namely a list of elements like the one shown here

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