Old Yeller: Finding Dead Code

» 04 Jul 2009

As Rails applications age, they tend to cruft up in ways that make maintenance
difficult. Refactoring is the solution, and common best practices like unit
testing and regular runs of flog
and"flay":http://ruby.sadi.st/Flay.html help facilitate this. Unfortunately,
these techniques do not greatly help the elimination of dead code. Rails makes
the accumulation of dead code, code that is never run in the application, very
easy. Be it templates that are overridden by better, more format specific
alternatives (e.g. .html.erb vs. .erb), helper methods that are not excised
when the views are changed, convenience methods on models that no longer
reflect a use of the model, or controller actions for which no route exists,
dead code confuses and complicates working with a code base. Refactoring a
block of code that is never actually used is also an exercise in wasted

To combat this, I have released Old
. Using the power of
RCov, Shoulda, Rails Routing, and hilarious monkey patching, Old Yeller will
tell you what Ruby code is not run and which templates are never rendered. It
automatically generates test cases for every rule in your routes and then runs
the code. This creates an RCov coverage report for the application and a list
of unused templates.


This tool is not perfect. For it to be effective, you must correctly configure
parameters for your actions in dead_code.rb and specify working data in your test
fixtures. It is important to note that only routes that specify both controller
and action will be run. Old Yeller is just too old to deal with catch-all
routes or route precedence. It is important to note that code that is reported
as not run, may actually be live code that gets called in some scenario that is
not exercised by the test cases or test data. Code that is reported as being
run is most certainly live. Before deleting code, use ack/grep and common

Once again, the link is http://github.com/schleyfox/old_yeller/tree/master ,
tell your friends.