For the latest information on the Refactoring Browser see the HyperNews
The Refactoring Browser is an advanced browser for
VisualWorks, VisualWorks/ENVY, and IBM Smalltalk. It includes all
the features of the standard browsers plus several enhancements.
Some of its enhancements are:
- Buffers: You can edit many
methods at the same time without opening other
browsers. For example, while you are editing one
method, you can switch to a new buffer to lookup
some value in another method, and then return
back to your edited method without opening a new
- Drag & drop: You can drag
& drop methods on classes or protocols;
protocols on other classes or on protocols;
classes on other categories; and categories on
- Hierarchy: You can easily switch
between a hierarchy view and the normal category
view without spawning a hierarchy view window.
shows the hierarchy view on the VisualLauncher
class. Also, it shows a resource viewer
displaying an icon.
- Menus: The browser has window
menus, so you can use the short-cut keys for
selecting items from the menu and rely less on
- Multi-window: You can have many
tools in different windows with only one navigator
controlling them. In this mode, only the top most
code tool will be updated when you change the
navigators selection. If you want to use the
multi-window browser, see the customization section
- Old methods: No more
accidentally accepting changed methods. Whenever
you change a method in one window, all other
browsers viewing the methods will turn
their code tools red until you update their
code or accept the method. If you do not like the
color selection, you can change it in
Automatically perform some behavior preserving
transformations such as abstracting references to
an instance variable. Many of the refactorings
are from Bill Opdyke's thesis.
- Resource viewers: View resource
methods in their more natural look instead of
text. For example, a menu resource method appears
as menu, not as text, although you can switch to
a textual view if you want. This picture shows a
canvas viewer viewing the ClassNavigator>windowSpec
- Rewrite tool: Specify new rules
to make source to source transformations. For
example, you can create a rule to automatically
convert uses of "aCollection size == 0"
to be "aCollection isEmpty".
Documentation for the rewrite tool can be found
on this page.
- Undo support: The Refactoring
Browser can undo/redo refactorings, method
changes, and class changes. The class variable,
UndoSize, in RefactoringManager specifies the
number of undos that can be undone. The default
size is 5.
signify that the feature is not implemented for IBM Smalltalk.
To install the browser in an ENVY environment, you need to
decompress the ENVY-Browser.zip
file to create the Browser.dat file. Once you have done this,
you'll first import the "Refactoring Browser"
configuration map for the browser into ENVY and then load the
config map for the browser.
If you are using VisualWorks 3.0 without ENVY, you need to
After downloading, simply unzip the file into a parcel directory
and load the RefactoringBrowser parcel. You might need to edit
your parcel path so that the RefactoringBrowser parcel that was
sent with VisualWorks isn't loaded instead of this one (or you
could just remove the RefactoringBrowser parcel from the
If you are using VW2.5 without ENVY, you can download a
previous version of the browser.
Joseph Pelrine has ported the refactorings from the
Refactoring Browser to VSE. You can download them from ftp://st.cs.uiuc.edu/Smalltalk/STV/st_v/v_win32/refbrwsr/.
If you have problems using any of the
ftp://st.cs.uiuc.edu links above, then your machine
probably doesn't allow reverse DNS. In this case you can download
the files by replacing ftp://st.cs.uiuc.edu with
http://st-www.cs.uiuc.edu/ftp/. Also, you could use one of the mirror sites.
If you wish to see what has changed between the versions, you can look
at the fixes file.
Other Refactoring Information:
To open the refactoring browser select the button or evaluate "RefactoringBrowser open".
If you're using ENVY, then you can select the
"RefactoringBrowser" from the ENVY menu in the
launcher. This will open a window that is similar to this picture.
Common Questions & Answers:
- What does the ____ refactoring do?
This page contains a
description of the refactorings.
- Is there a Java (or C++) version?
We do not have and are not currently working on a Java
version. While a Java version is definitely needed, we
have other things we need to do (e.g., get our degrees).
However, given the right incentive (i.e., $$$), we could
implement a Java version.
- How can I tell what version of the Refactoring
Browser I currently have?
If you are using ENVY, then you can simply look at the
version number of the Refactoring Browser configuration
map. It should be something like R3.0.0. If you are using
the parceled version of the Refactoring Browser, you can
look at the parcel versions. Finally, if you are using
the non-ENVY VW2.5, you can look at the
RefactoringBrowser class. It contains two class variables
(Version & PatchLevel). By concatenating these two
numbers together, you can get the overall version number.
- I've found a bug, how should I report it?
The first thing you should do is to determine that you
are running the latest version of the browser (see
previous question). After seeing that you have the latest
version, please try to find a simple reproduceable case
that you can post to the HyperNews page. If you cannot
find a reproduceable case, you can still post the problem
(it will just be harder for us to find the problem). It
is your responsibility to report the bugs (since
we don't charge anything for the browser, you should
atleast be able to report bugs). We cannot fix any
problems that we don't know about.
- Is there a port for GemStone?
No, we don't have GemStone on our machines, so it would
be difficult for us to create one. If someone creates a
version, we would be happy to include it.
- Can I only rename methods in my application; not
the whole image?
Currently, the Refactoring Browser renames everything
when performing a renaming refactoring. Since we cannot
determine which implementors of a method are polymorphic,
we must rename everything (else we might miss some
senders). In the future, we may relax this restriction to
allow you to specify which ones to rename.
If you are using ENVY, then you may want to follow the suggestion
by Niall Ross.
- Does the Refactoring Browser have to format a
method when it changes the method by a refactoring?
The Refactoring Browser uses parse tree to perform its
transformations on. Since parse tree are used, it is
easiest to just have the parse tree to format themselves
whenever they are changed. It is definitely possible to
not have to reformat for every change. However, this has
not been implemented and is not a high priority for us.
Therefore, either some user can implement it themselves,
or we would be open to implementing it if someone is
willing to pay for it.
- What are the BR prefixes for?
The BR prefix stands for Brant & Roberts. Only after
being questioned about the prefixes did we realize that
it should have been RB (which works for both Refactoring
Browser and Roberts & Brant).
- How does the Refactoring Browser determine if a
class is abstract?
Smalltalk doesn't have any language feature that denotes
an abstract class like C++ or Java. As a result, we check
for a couple things when looking for an abstract class.
If the class contains any method that sends
#subclassResponsibility, the we consider the class as
abstract. A method that sends subclassResponsibility
signifies that users should override this method in every
subclass to have all the class' functionality to work.
Another check we use to determine if a class is abstract
is to look for references to the class. If the class is
not referenced then the class is considered to be
abstract, since there is no way to create an instance of
- Why does the Refactoring Browser care if a class
The Refactoring Browser can only perform some
refactorings if the class is abstract. For example, it
can only push a method down if it can determine that the
method can never be called on the class that the method
is being pushed out of.
- Are there any restrictions on the Refactoring
Browser's code (e.g., GNU copyleft)?
We don't have any restrictions on the code. You are free
to use it for what ever you want. However, we do request
two things if you use or modify the code. If you modify
the browser, please submit your changes back to us. We
will try to integrate your changes back into the browser.
The other request is that if you use the code in some
project, we would appreciate some recognition of its use
(e.g., an acknowledgement in a readme file). It is always
pleasing to see your code running in several different
While we don't expect any major problems, we assume no
responsibility for any damages it may cause. We've been
using it for over three years without any major problems.
If you find any problems, please send us a description so
that it won't happen to others.
The new browser was designed to be extensible and
customizable. There are several methods that you can modify
and/or execute to change its behavior.
- Multi-window support: You can
change the browser so that each code tool is
opened in a new window, instead of creating
buffers for each tool. To change the browser to
be multi-window evaluate "RefactoringBrowser
beMultiWindow", and to change it back
to single window mode evaluate "RefactoringBrowser
beSingleWindow". Once you evaluate
either selection, you must open a new browser.
- Vertical navigators: You can
change the navigator from it's default horizontal
position to a vertical one by evaluating "RefactoringBrowser
beVertical" and switch it back to
horizontal by evaluating "RefactoringBrowser
- Resource editors: You can change
the editor and/or viewer for a resource (menus,
canvases, etc.) by changing ResourceTool>initialize
method. For example, to change the menu editor,
so that the new VisualWorks 2.5 enhanced menu
editor is opened, change UIMenuEditor to
MenuEditor, and then re-initialize the ResourceTool
- Code tools: You can create a new
code tool and add it to the browser by modifying
the CodeModel>codeToolClass method.
This method determines which code tool is used
for the navigator's selection. Code tools can be
created by creating a subclass of CodeTool,
defining its interface functions, and defining
the updateContents method. The updateContents
message is sent to the code tool so that the code
tool can stay current with the navigator's
This section lists the known bugs and their work arounds (if
they exist). If you know of a bug that is not listed in this
section, please mail us.
If we know of the bug, we might fix it, but we can't fix bugs
that we don't know about .
- Undo convert to instance variable: The VA version will not
undo the convert to instance variable refactoring, since the inverse
operations can't be performed in reverse.
- Class Variables in VisualWorks ENVY: The
Class>>removeClassVarName: in VisualWorks ENVY has
a bug in that it doesn't remove the class variable. This
bug affects the push up/down class variable, remove class
variable, and rename class variable refactorings. For the
rename class variable refactoring, the code will be
transformed, but the renamed variable will not be
removed. One fix for the problem is to change the code in
self classVarNames asOrderedCollection
remove: existingClassVarName asString ifAbsent:;
self classVarNames asOrderedCollection
remove: existingClassVarName asSymbol ifAbsent:;
Since class variables are symbols in VisualWorks, the
"existingClassVarName asString" will never be
found as a class variable name.
Spawn hierarchy: If you add a new class in a
"spawned hierarchy" browser, you may not be
able to see the new protocols that you add for the new
Drag & Drop: If you drag a selection from the
browser that has multiple categories or protocols
selected and drop it on the original VisualWorks browser
icon, you can generate exceptions if the first
class/method selected is not in the first
Symbol References: When you are "safe
removing" a class and there are references, the
option to browse the references doesn't not browse the
indirect references through symbols.
Comments in extracted code: When extracting code,
the comments in that are in the extracted code, will
appear both in the method that was extracted as well as
the method it was extracted from.
Spawn browser: When you select spawn
browser from the editor for the "Missing
subclassResponsibility" lint rule, you will get a
doesNotUnderstand: error. This does not affect any of the
other browsers or lint rule editors, only the missing
Dialog: When you open a browser and
there are no methods for it to inspect, it will open a
dialog saying "Nobody". If there are no active
controllers, then it will fail with a doesNotUnderstand:
message. You can either terminate this process, or open
the debugger and restart the method.
Slow response: When running the
multi-window browser under Motif (maybe other unix window
managers?), it may take longer to update the window.
Since only the top most window is updated after a change,
the program must get the stacked window order from a
primitive. While this primitive is fast on MS-Windows, it
is slow under Motif so the resulting update is slow for
Motif. If you have a better way to get the stacked order
of the windows, please mail
Slow dialog close: When running
VisualWorks 2.5 with the events file-in, the dialog
warning takes longer to close after the close button is
pressed. This is probably a bug in VisualWorks 2.5 events
Menu bug: When running VisualWorks 2.5
with the events file in, the pop-up menu automatically
select the first item that has a submenu instead of the
top-most item. Again, this is probably a bug in
VisualWorks 2.5 event code.
File out: Selecting file out
from the category, class or protocol menu will file out
all methods for the selection, instead of filing out only
the methods that you are browsing. For example, if you
spawn class Object and then select file out from
the category menu, you will file out all classes in the Kernel-Objects
category instead of just Object.
Comments or suggestions can be sent to email@example.com
Last updated on 18-Jul-1999.