|EtymologyOfRefactoring||refactoring||10 September 2003|
Where did the word refactoring come from?
This question struck my mind a few times when writing the refactoring book. I didn't think that trying to do an intensive etymological search was worth the trouble - after all it was the techniques that I was focused on - but I did ask around the people who had helped develop the ideas (Ward Cunningham, Kent Beck, Bill Opdyke, John Brant, Don Roberts, Ralph Johnson...)
The obvious answer comes from the notion of factoring in mathematics. You can take an expressions such as
When I asked around the creators of refactoring, the common answer was that they had no idea. The term had been around for a while and they don't know where it came from.
The one definite answer I got was from Bill Opdyke, who did the first thesis on refactoring. He remembered a conversation during a walk with Ralph Johnson. They were discussing the notion of Software Factory, which was then in vogue. They surmised that since software development was more like design than like manufacturing, it would be better to call it a Software Refactory. Refactory has gone on to be the name for the consulting organization that Ralph and his colleagues use.