Thursday, February 15, 2007

To Coin a Word

Tony makes Reddit again with a familiar term, Refunctoring.

Why ‘Refunctoring’? First, I refuse to reuse euphemistic terms that have served only to denigrate the standard of the software development industry, therefore, I cannot use ‘Refactoring’ (oooh! did I just say that!!?). To show this, consider the fact that the entire notion of ‘Refactoring’ is done away with one simple phrase ‘Functional Programming’ in the case shown and hundreds more. Of course, you might decide to redefine Refactoring to a different context, but then, redefining terms often leads to confusion (the term ‘function’ is itself a perfect example). To further demonstrate this point, open the book or catalog on Refactoring and turn to the section titled, ‘Replace Parameter with Method’. Then say out loud, ‘partial application’ — if you don’t know why you’re saying that, learn what partial application is, then perhaps it might dawn on you.

Anyway, Refunctoring is what most people really are doing. They are converting their code that is written in not-too-powerful programming languages to mimic the power that is already available in functional programming languages. They are representing higher-order functions with (importantly co-variant) polymorphic type parameters, refactoring out what partial application already provides and much more. This is being done, despite having been invented many, many years ago, but the fact that it is being done mandates a name, albeit how absurd it might be. I use the term Refunctoring, for no other reason than it was suggested to me by a bemused colleague (you know who you are :) ) one day and upon reflection, I have decided that it is entirely appropriate.

You don’t think the map function is a special case do you?

It's good to be known as bemused.
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