Refactoring a dead horse

May 10, 2009 Adam Milligan

A while back I made the point that the HasOneThroughAssociation class in Rails shouldn’t be a subclass of HasManyThroughAssociation. I also submitted a Rails patch in which I changed the superclass of HasOneThroughAssociation from HasManyThroughAssociation to HasOneAssociation and moved the shared Through functionality into a module. Despite support from the teeming millions, Rails core team member Pratik rejected the patch for being “just a refactoring.”

Despondent, I brought the issue up here at Pivotal a few months later, after the Release of Rails 2.3. Nate added a callout for support for the ticket to the daily Pivotal standup blog. The response was heartwarming (thanks to all who added a +1), but resulted only in Pratik removing himself from the ticket (I assume so he would stop getting comment notifications).

All is not lost, however. At RailsConf last week, Jeff Dean — Pivot, raconteur, international playboy, and refactoring paladin — called out the Rails core team regarding their stance on refactorings. The response: bullish (sort of).

Taking into account the responses from the Rails core team, I’ve done the following:

  • Recreated the patch for current Rails edge. Fortunately, I had to make only one small change to the patch from six months ago.
  • Ran a search on GitHub for any code using the HasOneThroughAssociation class (thanks to Jeff for the idea). As far as I can tell no code outside of Rails depends on the implementation of that class.
  • Added Jeremy Kemper as the owner of the Rails ticket. He was the most immediately supportive of refactoring patches, so hopefully he’ll advocate for this one.

We’ll see what happens.

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