Refactoring involves modifying and enhancing pre-existing code while preserving its original functionality. Developers can refactor Python code to make it more concise and efficient, less complex, and improve its quality, readability, and maintainability. This guide will break down the top Python refactoring tools in terms of their features, pros, cons, and pricing so you can make the best pick for your development needs.
- PyCharm: ideal for developers seeking a wide range of safe and reliable refactoring features within a popular Python IDE.
- Bowler: a solid pick for developers seeking a safe and flexible refactoring tool for the latest and previous versions of Python.
- Sourcery: a great choice for Python refactoring for projects involving large codebases or multiple developers.
Best for developers seeking a wide range of safe and reliable refactoring features within a popular Python IDE.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
- Pricing: 4.75 out of 5
- Core Features:4.75 out of 5
- Customer Support:4 out of 5
- Ease of Use: 4 out of 5
- Performance: 4.25 out of 5
- User Reviews: 5 out of 5
PyCharm is a popular integrated development environment (IDE) for Python that includes a wide range of refactoring features (rename, extract, move, inline, etc.) to improve code structure, readability, and maintainability.
Features of PyCharm
PyCharm’s most noteworthy Python refactoring features and commands include:
- Change signature
- Introduce variable
- Safe delete
- Preview changes
PyCharm offers plenty of Python refactoring versatility. It lets developers rename variables, functions, files, symbols, packages, and modules, plus extract methods, constants, fields, parameters, and more. You can copy/move functions, classes, files, directories, and modules within a project and inline to make code simpler and more transparent.
PyCharm lets you change the signatures of methods or functions and introduce variables to make code self-explanatory. It has a safe delete feature to safely remove files from source code and lets you preview changes for some refactorings before they are applied.
Pros of PyCharm
Advantages of using PyCharm for your Python refactoring needs include:
- Safe and reliable
- Code/analysis error detection
- Preview feature
- Refactoring versatility
PyCharm is known for its safe and reliable refactoring, which minimizes the risk of errors getting introduced during code changes. Its code analysis and error detection capabilities work wonders for spotting coding problems before refactoring, and the preview feature gives a glimpse into how refactoring will look before taking action. PyCharm’s refactoring is also quite versatile, giving developers many ways to enhance code quality and maintainability.
Cons of PyCharm
PyCharm’s disadvantages include:
Programmers must pay a premium to unlock PyCharm’s top features for boosting Python code quality. While its many refactoring features are a plus, they could be a minus for beginners just getting started. That added complexity could increase onboarding time. PyCharm can also be resource-intensive when working with larger projects, leading to sluggish performance on underpowered hardware.
Pricing of PyCharm
PyCharm has pricing plans for organizations and individual use. It also has special offers, including free access for qualifying non-commercial open-source projects, students, teachers, and classroom situations, and deep discounts for nonprofits, universities, and educational organizations. There is a free PyCharm Community Edition that is open-source, but it comes with very basic features.
PyCharm’s pricing for individual use is as follows:
- PyCharm: $99 for the first year, $79 for the second year, and $59 for the third year onwards.
- All Products Pack: $289 for the first year, $231 for the second year, and $173 for the third year onwards.
The PyCharm individual plan includes the Python IDE and all its features for professional developers, while the All Products Pack offers more bang for your buck with 16 tools (PyCharm, ReSharper, WebStorm, IntelliJ IDEA, etc.)
PyCharm’s pricing for organizations is as follows:
- PyCharm: $249 for the first year, $199 for the second year, and $149 for the third year onwards.
- All Products Pack: $779 for the first year, $623 for the second year, and $467 for the third year onwards.
The organizational plans offer the same features/functionality as the individual plans.
Check out our PyCharm Review for more.
Best for developers seeking a safe and flexible refactoring tool for the latest and previous versions of Python.
Overall Rating: 4.1 out of 5
- Pricing: 5 out of 5
- Core Features:4 out of 5
- Customer Support:3.25 out of 5
- Ease of Use: 3.7 out of 5
- Performance: 5 out of 5
- User Reviews: 2.5 out of 5
Bowler is a flexible tool that offers safe refactoring for modern Python code. Built on standard libraries, it supports newer versions of Python and is backward compatible with all previous versions.
Features of Bowler
Bowler’s highlighted Python refactoring features and commands include:
- Safe refactoring
- Custom rules
- Refactors entire codebases
- Command-line interface
- Interactive mode
- Refactoring preview
- Code analysis
- Multi-file support
Bowler is a safe Python refactoring tool that ensures code changes do not alter your program’s external behavior and minimizes the risk of bug introduction. You can create custom refactoring rules to match your project’s specific code patterns and apply consistent refactoring across entire codebases to tackle large-scale projects. It has a command-line interface to run and automate code transformations from the terminal, an interactive mode that lets you confirm/adjust changes on the fly, and dry runs to let you preview refactoring changes before applying them.
Code analysis is another Bowler highlight. It can analyze code to determine which areas need refactoring to maintain code consistency and quality. The refactoring tool also offers multi-file support, so you can transform code across multiple files in your project.
Pros of Bowler
Bowler’s strengths include:
- Python compatibility
- Code safety
Bowler offers plenty of versatility through its custom code transformations, giving developers added control over refactoring. Being open-source and free to use is a plus for developers seeking refactoring capabilities on limited budgets. Bowler’s support for newer and older Python versions is another plus, as is its safety emphasis during code transformations that ensures refactored code remains valid.
Cons of Bowler
Bowler’s weaknesses include:
- Time investment
- Limited built-in rules
Bowler may seem overly complex for simpler projects. It is ideal for projects with targeted code changes or large codebases, but the time and effort needed to create and test custom refactoring rules may be overkill for some developers. Bowler also lacks a wide selection of built-in refactoring rules, requiring developers to define them on their own.
Pricing of Bowler
Bowler is an open-source Python refactoring tool that is free to use.
Best for Python refactoring for projects involving large codebases or multiple developers.
Overall Rating: 4.2 out of 5
- Pricing: 4.75 out of 5
- Core Features:4.5 out of 5
- Customer Support:4 out of 5
- Ease of Use: 4 out of 5
- Performance: 3.5 out of 5
- User Reviews: 3.75 out of 5
Sourcery is a continuous code improvement/analysis tool with automatic Python refactoring, suggestions, and more. Python developers can use Sourcery to write clean, maintainable code while boosting efficiency.
Features of Sourcery
Sourcery’s top features and refactoring commands include:
- Multiple analysis techniques
- Automated suggestions
- Code analysis
- Various code refactorings
- Remove duplicate code
- Custom rules
- Code quality
- IDE integration
Sourcery relies on multiple techniques to analyze code, including machine learning, natural language processing, and static code analysis. It automatically spots Python code segments that could use refactoring to improve efficiency, readability, and maintainability. Sourcery then offers analysis-based refactoring suggestions to make quick fixes. The developer tool offers many common refactorings, including renaming, inlining, extraction, and more. It can also remove duplicate code to keep it concise and easier to update.
Developers can configure Sourcery’s rules and refactorings to fit their projects’ specific needs, and they can rely on the tool to fix and spot code quality issues (best practice violations, code smells, unused imports, etc.) and get suggestions on improving code structure, variable/function naming, and more. Sourcery also integrates with popular code editors and Python IDEs for convenience.
Pros of Sourcery
Sourcery’s pros include:
- Free plan
- Real-time issue detection
- Advanced features
While Sourcery does have premium plans for individuals and teams seeking advanced functionality, its free open-source plan is a great option for budget-minded developers.
Sourcery’s real-time issue detection acts like an extra set of eyes and eliminates the need to wait for the code review phase, and the refactoring tool can save developers a ton of time and effort with its automated refactoring features. Sourcery also offers more advanced code quality and refactoring features than similar tools, making it suitable for more complex projects with large codebases or multiple developers.
Cons of Sourcery
Sourcery’s cons include:
- Learning curve
- False positives
Development teams may find Sourcery’s premium plan quite costly at $30 per month, per member. Beginners may need time to get used to all of Sourcery’s features and configurations. As with many automated refactoring tools, Sourcery may lead to false positives that are irrelevant to your specific project.
Pricing of Sourcery
Sourcery’s pricing plans are as follows:
- Free: For open-source projects.
- Pro: For all projects at $10 per month.
- Team: $30 per month, per team member.
The free plan lets open-source developers review code anytime, anywhere, even without an account. It includes code review, automated fixes, whole file analysis, unlimited custom rules, IDE and GitHub integrations, CLI, and more. The Pro plan lets developers unlock Sourcery’s features for any project, which include real-time review in IDE, GitHub review for individual repos, bulk reviews with the Sourcery CLI, unlimited custom rules, and fully local code analysis. The Team plan adds self-hosted CI/CD integration, SSO options, GitHub review for private repos, a pre-commit hook, and a dedicated account manager.
What to Look for in Python Refactoring Tools
Python refactoring tools can improve your code’s quality and efficiency while boosting your productivity as a developer. To ensure the refactoring tool you pick helps you reap the desired rewards, consider several factors, beginning with budget. If your budget is limited, choose an open-source Python refactoring tool that is free to use. If you have some wiggle room, you can opt for a paid refactoring tool that offers more advanced functionality. Other things to look for include:
- User-friendliness and intuitive interface
- Customizations for coding standards
- Active update cadence
- Learning resources
- Compatibility with IDEs and developer tools
- Refactoring features like code quality checks, code reviews, design pattern support
The ideal refactoring tool is user-friendly, with an intuitive interface and solid documentation. It should also offer fast performance, customization to meet your specific coding standards and requirements, be actively developed and updated, and have a large user base to provide additional support and resources.
Your refactoring tool should be compatible with the development environment and Python version you are using, and it should be secure so it does not introduce vulnerabilities into your codebase. Specific features to look for include automated refactoring, suggestions, code quality checks, code review assistance, coverage for various Python code patterns, and seamless integrations with popular code editors and integrated development environments.
How We Evaluated Python Code Refactoring Software
While evaluating the best code refactoring tools for Python, we began by creating six weighted categories containing important sub criteria. Our sub criteria was then used to assign scores (ranging from 1-5) to each refactoring tool on our list, giving us a total score for each platform. The top three options with the highest overall score made our list.
Below you can find an explanation of our evaluation criteria and examples of sub criteria, alongside the percentage score.
Pricing – 20%
Pricing is an important factor for choosing a refactoring platform. For our Pricing criteria, we looked at sub criteria that included the following:
- Free trial available and length of trial
- Free to use?
- Cost for themes, plugins, and development
- Is the pricing transparent on the vendor’s website
- Is a demo available
Core Features – 25%
Core Features offered by refactoring tools are especially important, as Python developers often seek to limit the amount of custom coding needed to refactor code. We looked at several sub criteria for our Core Features evaluation, including (but not limited to):
- Language and platform support
- Refactoring commands
- Code duplication detection
- Code safety
Customer Support – 10%
Having someone to reach out to is important in the event you experience issues with your refactoring software. For our Customer Support criteria, we looked at the following support options to see if they were available and, if so, during which hours:
- Phone, chat, and email
Ease of Use – 20%
Using a code refactoring tool with a low learning curve and maintenance helps Python programmrs refactor code more efficiently. Our Ease of Use criteria looked at the following sub criteria:
- Difficulty to setup, configure, and maintain
- Does the tool offer advanced configurations
- Is the user interface intuitive
- Are there plenty of documentation and video learning resources
Performance – 15%
For our Performance criteria, we looked at the following sub criteria:
- Reported bugs
- Frequency of updates
User Reviews – 10%
Finally, to truly evaluate the refactoring software on our list, we looked at other user reviews to see how users with diverse backgrounds viewed our options. Reviews can be subjective, so we ranked this criteria with lowest importance on our list.
Final Thoughts on Python Refactoring Tools
The Python refactoring tools discussed in this guide are some of your best options for improving your code’s quality and making it more readable and maintainable. Before choosing a Python refactoring tool, make sure it fits your needs for compatibility, user-friendliness, features, and pricing.