Mobile App Rewriting vs Refactoring: A Clash To Modernize A Legacy App!

Mobile app rewriting or software refactoring, which one would be the most idealistic approach to revamp your legacy app? It’s a question to be inquisitive about being an app owner.  Making changes to the old pieces of code written by someone with a distinctive skillset is not what every seasoned developer would ever desire to […]

Updated 5 December 2023

Omji Mehrotra
Omji Mehrotra

VP - Delivery at Appventurez

Mobile app rewriting or software refactoring, which one would be the most idealistic approach to revamp your legacy app? It’s a question to be inquisitive about being an app owner. 

Making changes to the old pieces of code written by someone with a distinctive skillset is not what every seasoned developer would ever desire to do in any project. After all, there is always an utterly sensible reason when an entrepreneur puts up a decision to either get his legacy app rewritten or refactored as a result of mobile app development technologies. And when you’re desperate to get a genuine viewpoint on refactoring vs rewrite, there is no hard and fast rule to select any of two approaches for performance, quality, & maintainability of an existing app you have owned for years. 

Now the question arises when you must consider code rewriting over refactoring & vice versa for your software. You may have ample options to find how to make apps load faster but to boost their maintainability & performance, you have to either refactor or rewrite it from scratch. 

So, it’s a time to debate the topic of mobile app refactoring vs rewrite because the majority of tech enthusiasts & industrialists are juggling to pick the most relevant practice b/w app refactoring & rewriting to modify their legacy apps as per the modern technologies & upgrades. 

Mobile App Rewriting Vs Refactoring: Both Are Not Synonymous!

When the codebase of a legacy app is too outdated to match the new quality standards of the latest technologies, the moment comes when a product owner decides to discard it & opts for full-cycle cross-platform app development to recreate it from scratch, That’s called rewriting. 

On the other hand, routine refactoring invites you to make a few or only much-needed changes in the legacy code components of an app to optimize its potential to render better readability with efficient debugging & quality analysis. 

For more clarity on mobile app rewriting vs refactoring, let’s start with a basic definition of the two:

what is the definition of code refactoring


what is the definition of code rewriting

App rewriting & refactoring processes can be relatable but not similar of course. It’s a big misconception among most app owners who’re facing a hard time while wondering how to improve code quality in DevOps & other approaches applied to run a business with a distributed agile team

We can say that Rewriting is not equal to Refactoring & this statement will be justified in the article. For now, you have to get involved in a deep discussion to understand the difference between app refactoring and app rewriting as there is no room for confusion when it comes to shaping a user-centric mobile app strategy.  

Rewriting vs Refactoring: Unavoidable Advantages For Unbiased Comparison

While the remarkable benefits of app refactoring lure programmers to reduce their coding efforts, time, & cost to develop Android app and iOS apps, the futuristic advantages of rewriting the app keep compelling them to reconstruct the layers of coding from scratch. 

To give a fair verdict on Refactor vs Rewrite, our first parameter covers the major pros of these two time-tested techniques for legacy code optimization. 

Noteworthy pointers for mobile app refactoring benefits

  • Any programmer with upper-hand coding skills can get started with mobile app refactoring on the go. No other formalities are required to be done for this process.
  • It’s possible to refactor almost every software architecture no matter if it is excessively distributed or typically monolithic.  
  • Improvement in the code quality is seen as soon as the refactoring process kicks off with app deployment. Programmers are forced to work on two codebases simultaneously. Hence, there will be no impact on the progress of the mobile app development lifecycle observed with code refactoring.
  • Developers are free to clean up a selective part or layer of codes they are trying to refactor at a comparatively lower budget than the overall cost to develop an Android app

Noteworthy pointers for mobile app rewriting benefits 

what are those reasons that required to rewrite

  • The concept of app rewriting simply implies a way to redesign your legacy app from scratch. The moment you realize that it’s the right time to announce a mobile app update, you can approach a team of experienced developers to rewrite your existing app in case it’s too old to meet the expectations of both users & owners from the perspectives of performance, accessibility, maintainability, bug reports, & other factors defined to upscale mobile app usability
  • An ideal approach is to learn from the coding mistakes of past developers & reconstruct the app entirely from scratch with easily maintainable codes. It helps in bolstering your productivity & success rate in futuristic mobile app development projects. 
  • Invents ample opportunities to meet new users with more options to experiment with new technologies, platforms, tools, & add-ons dedicated to Javascript performance optimization of a mobile app. It simply means that the advantage of rewriting your app won’t force you to mess with those who’ve written the old pieces of code of your legacy app that demands critical improvements. 
  • Code rewrites can eliminate unmaintainable code or bugs without compromising the code quality as well as the speed of mobile app development. If you don’t want to juggle the b/w challenges of handling legacy codes, considering code rewriting over refactoring is a sensible approach. 
  • Developers are highly opportune to leverage Avant-grade technologies, tools, & frameworks with every phase of code rewriting. Mobile app rewriting gives a fresh start to your project that results in great enthusiasm & motivation to bring incredible outputs with the combined efforts of a software development team.

Refactor Vs Rewrite: Notable Disadvantages for Neutral Comparison

The awe-inspiring pros of refactoring or rewriting a legacy app indicate a lot of keynotes to compare between the two. Some programmers opt for the refactoring process to reduce app development costs & timeline while many of them prefer to rewrite it completely from the root.  

Heading further to our debate on mobile app rewriting vs app refactoring, let us discover some primitive drawbacks of both code optimization practices for a legacy app. 

Drawbacks Of Mobile App Refactoring 

  • Refactoring restricts or makes it difficult to switch from one technology to another while changing codes written on another framework or programming language just like programmers tend to migrate objective-c projects to Swift
  • Refactoring can improve code quality, but it fails to rectify the issues imbibed within the core architecture structure of a legacy app.
  • While refactoring an app, developers are required to ensure that the end product goes well with the business requirements as requested by the client. The process of testing & debugging not only gets elongated but also increases the offshore app development cost of the project.
  • Not all developers are fond of refactoring as they don’t find it worth enough to invest their time. The absence of a new technology stack with application refactoring tools demotivates programmers to refactor an app as a first choice.

Drawbacks Of Mobile App Rewriting 

  • Despite rewriting the legacy code of your existing app, the results won’t be satisfactory for being a software development partner for any product owner. The reason is not refactoring the legacy app before you decide to rewrite it from scratch. The disadvantage of rewriting your app brings down user retention rates as it fails to deliver frequent updates to the target audience. 
  • App rewrites consume long hours of rewriting codes as one has to revamp the entire legacy app by coding it from scratch. It results in delays in the delivery of the project as explained in our mobile app development timeline guide.
  • No one cares about the excuse you give for system downtime or performance issues in your existing app. If you choose to rewrite your existing app entirely, you may have to implement some mobile app development strategies to tackle market competitors as most businesses regret this decision when they observe a massive downfall in their growth. 
  • If the outcomes of app rewriting miss the exact purpose of doing it, all your efforts are in vain. For example, if a rewritten legacy app doesn’t match the prime intent behind introducing a rewritten app then this attempt will surely disappoint your target audience. 
  • Mobile app rewriting is least expected to yield the desired results in favor of app owners & their customers if a developer is supposed to handle two projects at a time.
  • One of the key disadvantages of rewriting your app outlines the risks of missing previously fixed bugs of an existing app. Such bugs will reappear once you rewrite the entire structure of your legacy app & this will add more hurdles in the course of mobile app development. 

Other Challenges Observed In Mobile App Rewriting & Refactoring 

Our next parameter to compare b/w refactor vs rewrite is centered on some significant enterprise app development challenges faced by developers in both processes respectively. Check out the below-listed challenges of the mobile app rewriting & refactoring process:

Mobile App Refactoring Issues

Issues due to code duplicity:

When code repeats are identified at different layers of your legacy app, the code refactoring process turns out a bit challenging for developers to merge the identical structures.

The solution is to eliminate duplicated codes by not overusing instance variables present in large classes. 

The necessity to compress long methods:

To shorten lengthy procedures, refactoring could trouble a programmer to a great extent. One has to apply small yet difficult methods to compress them without changing the original behavior of dedicated app functionality. The refactoring process makes methods easier to understand & readable for developers with some limitations. 

Handling the long parameter lists:

You’re most likely to make changes in your long parameter list when you’ve got bulks of data to store in your app. Besides the non-satisfactory insights on your mobile app performance metrics, these complex & hard to access parameter lists will disappoint you later on. Although refactoring leaves no space for such circumstances in the mobile app development process, it is quite problematic for the majority of present-day programmers. 

Scope of divergent changes in class:

This scenario comes up when a particular class is modified for a couple of significant reasons. In the code refactoring process, any modification that has been done to handle a specific variation must modify a single class as well. As a result, you can expect all code changes to reflect the defined variations which is very crucial & extremely dreadful for any coder. You have to determine elements that are modified & combine them within a class. 

Shotgun surgery:

Whether you’re an app owner or programmer, you must include the role of this technique in the app refactoring process to answer why choose the agile app development method for flawless coding & performance optimization. If you’ve decided to refactor your legacy app, you may be considering this technique that entirely goes opposite to the divergent change in classes. Being a developer, you’re supposed to make a lot of changes to all the selected classes you desire to change for rectifying certain parts of your app’s codebase that are required in the refactoring process as well. 

Feature Envy & Data Clumps:

Refactoring provides no simultaneous solutions to the complexity that recurs when an object runs computations for another object instead of indicating the other object to perform self-computation. And when it comes to data clumping, code refactoring simplifies the way you extract a class & create objects knowing that some pieces of data on your legacy app will go together as always. 

Mobile App Rewriting Issues 

Rewrites consume extra time:

No matter what timeline your software development company gives you for how long it takes to develop an application, code rewrites can be a long-winded procedure. Rewriting the entire app as per the specific project requirements demands plenty of time to recreate the app’s code from scratch even if you’ve sufficient resources & a team to manage such procedures. 

Legacy codes are good for nothing:

No one wants to deal with old codes unless you’ve to rewrite them for the sake of your project requirements. Programmers come across a series of defects & errors with old codes as they’re not relevant to the latest technology & demand for version updates. Hence, having legacy codes to rewrite is not an easy-going task for you. 

Not beneficial to clean old codes:

It’s great if you’re using automated technology or tool to migrate codes from one programming language to another for cross-platform Android or iOS app development while rewriting a mobile app. But the problem arises when this method generates complex codes that are not readable enough. 

Managing Two codebases at a time:

Developers feel bothered when they’re supposed to handle two codebases simultaneously while rewriting an app. Juggling b/w old & new codebases becomes a hurdle for those who’re new to this process. 

New is not always the best: Mobile app rewriting can never become a new normal for software development as even if it relinquishes existing lags or issues for a while, it can’t promise to keep new issues at bay.  

Why, When & How to Do Mobile App Rewriting & Refactoring?

Wondering when to refactor or rewrite an app? Go through our next section to find your answer to know why is it necessary to decide on either refactoring or rewriting.

When To Refactor an Application?

To Escalate your business productivity:

The most promising advantage of refactoring to consider in our debate on refactoring vs rewrite comes with its efficiency when adjoined with top cloud computing trends. It not only cuts down the costs but also boots the responsiveness, scalability, compatibility, & security of a mobile app. 

For Enterprises that need cloud apps:

Refactoring is highly recommended for businesses relying on comprehensive cloud app development to come up with new features & add-ons with secure access to data on the cloud platforms. It is much better than having a non-cloud environment for users. 

To upscale the quality of codes:

Restructuring the existing codes of a legacy app with a refactoring process is an idealistic decision with the benefits of mobile cloud computing.

A great option to improve agility:

When you’re aiming to improve business continuity with an advanced service-oriented architecture for your software then It’s the right time to invest in the mobile app refactoring process with iOS or Android app development services. 


Now the question arises how does application refactoring work? There are four ways to refactor an app & here are they: 

  • Complete refactoring in which 50% of codes are changed to improve overall performance at the lowest costs & time. 
  • Minimum Viable Refactoring that demands minor changes with the incorporation of handpicked features for better security, management, & use of an app. 
  • Containerization Refactoring involves minimal modifications by migrating an app into containers. This approach for the refactoring process is very popular for cost-efficient & short mobile app development lifecycle.
  • The serverless refactoring process conducts similar procedures as containerization as it makes changes to the development of a platform with the help of new tools & techniques. It uses serverless systems to run an app on the cloud.  

When To Rewrite An Application? 

When the code turns unreadable:

A poorly written code is vulnerable to becoming unreadable after undergoing multiple refactors. Instead of indulging in the code refactoring process, one can think about rewriting codes to make them easy to read & maintain. 

When project demands are beyond the line:

When the scope of a project is expected to diversify, you must consider rewriting the code from scratch as per the new requirements & technology trends of 2023. 

Improved UI designs & patterns:

New features & functions introduce a better way to convey your purpose with compelling designs & interfaces. Rewriting is a good alternative to refactoring as it renders improved solutions with more lessons to learn from the implementation done earlier. 

The arrival of new technologies & tools:

With new tech updates, programming languages, & business intelligence tools coming on your way, you have to keep your code up to date. You can use third-party integrations, useful frameworks, & other useful features to upgrade your legacy app to a more stable state.  


It sounds pretty interesting to know how to rewrite your code, isn’t it? There are two popular ways to do mobile app rewriting as categorized below:

  • Internal rewrite is performed to modify the internal structure of a particular element without making any changes to the API.  


  • External rewrite alters the API of the element you choose with or without making compulsory changes to its internal structure. 

Need To Rewrite Or Refactor Your App? Hire Appventurez!

In our debate on refactor vs rewrite, we’ve gone through a deep discussion on how these two things are different & favorable aspects of top digital transformation trends for emerging startups, SMEs, & businesses in the competitive marketplace. While programmers are free to go ahead with any of these practices to optimize code readability, performance, & maintainability, app owners can only rely on trusted technology partners like Appventurez to revamp their existing legacy app with stunning add-ons & features to deliver innovative mobility solutions. 


Q. What does the term ‘Refactoring’ mean?

In general terms, refactoring is a kind of coding process that modifies the internal architecture or pattern of an existing program’s source code of an app without altering its external behavior. 

Q. What do you mean by Code Rewriting?

Code rewriting is a process of replacing old codes with new ones to slowly transform a legacy app for a respective functionality or feature. 

Q. When you should Refactor or Rewrite?

Refactoring code lets app owners manage their apps with no hassles but it can’t ensure its adaptability with new technology & trends. On the other hand, code rewrites can transform the entire structure of a legacy app but fail to keep the foundational code changes in their original form.  

Omji Mehrotra
Omji Mehrotra

VP - Delivery at Appventurez

Expert in the Communications and Enterprise Software Development domain, Omji Mehrotra co-founded Appventurez and took the role of VP of Delivery. He specializes in React Native mobile app development and has worked on end-to-end development platforms for various industry sectors.

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