Building Flexible Refactoring Tools with XML

Nabor MendonçaPaulo Henrique M. MaiaLeonardo A. FonsecaRossana M. C. Andrade

Refactoring, i.e., the process of changing a software system to improve its internal quality while preserving its external behavior, is gaining increasing acceptance among software developers. Even though many refactoring tools are now available for a variety of programming languages, most of them rely on their own, closed mechanisms for representing and manipulating source code information, which makes them difficult to customize, extend and reuse. This paper makes three contributions towards the development of more flexible refactoring tools. Firstly, it proposes an XML-centric refactoring process in which XML is used as a standard way to represent, analyze and modify source code information. Secondly, it presents a concrete realization of that process, in the form of a refactoring framework, called RefaX, which builds on existing XML-based source code models and processing technologies to facilitate the development, extension and reuse of refactoring tools. Finally, it demonstrates the applicability of the proposed process and framework through two RefaX-based refactoring prototypes for Java and C++, respectively.

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