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Identifying prevalent quality issues in code changes by analyzing reviewers' feedback
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3177-6138
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0639-4234
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7266-5632
University of Stuttgart, Germany.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6962-4290
2024 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Context: Code reviewers provide valuable feedback during the code review. Identifying common issues described in the reviewers' feedback can provide input for context-specific software improvement opportunities. However, the use of reviewer feedback for this purpose is currently less explored.

Objective: Assessing if and how automation can derive themes in reviewers' feedback and whether these themes help to identify recurring quality-related issues in code changes.

Method: We conducted a case study using the JabRef system to distinguish reviewers' feedback on merged and abandoned code changes for the analysis. We used topic modeling to identify themes in 5,560 code review comments. The resulting themes were analyzed and named by a domain expert from JabRef.

Results: The domain expert considered the identified themes from the proposed automation approach to represent quality-related issues. We found that different quality issues are pointed out in code reviews for merged and abandoned code changes. 

Conclusions: The results indicate the usefulness of our proposed automation approach in utilizing code review comments for understanding the prevalent code quality issues that can help derive targeted and context-bound improvement actions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2024.
National Category
Computer Systems
Research subject
Software Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-25611OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-25611DiVA, id: diva2:1830643
Funder
ELLIIT - The Linköping‐Lund Initiative on IT and Mobile CommunicationsAvailable from: 2024-01-23 Created: 2024-01-23 Last updated: 2024-03-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Towards Measuring & Improving Source Code Quality
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards Measuring & Improving Source Code Quality
2024 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Context: Software quality has a multi-faceted description encompassing several quality attributes. Central to our efforts to enhance software quality is to improve the quality of the source code. Poor source code quality impacts the quality of the delivered product. Empirical studies have investigated how to improve source code quality and how to quantify the source code improvement. However, the reported evidence linking internal code structure information and quality attributes observed by users is varied and, at times, conflicting. Furthermore, there is a further need for research to improve source code quality by understanding trends in feedback from code review comments.

Objective: This thesis contributes towards improving source code quality and synthesizes metrics to measure improvement in source code quality. Hence, our objectives are 1) To synthesize evidence of links between source code metrics and external quality attributes, & identify source code metrics, and 2) To identify areas to improve source code quality by identifying recurring code quality issues using the analysis of code review comments.

Method: We conducted a tertiary study to achieve the first objective, an archival analysis and a case study to investigate the latter two objectives.

Results: To quantify source code quality improvement, we reported a comprehensive catalog of source code metrics and a small set of source code metrics consistently linked with maintainability, reliability, and security. To improve source code quality using analysis of code review comments, our explored methodology improves the state-of-the-art with interesting results.

Conclusions: The thesis provides a promising way to analyze themes in code review comments. Researchers can use the source code metrics provided to estimate these quality attributes reliably. In future work, we aim to derive a software improvement checklist based on the analysis of trends in code review comments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2024. p. 169
Series
Blekinge Institute of Technology Licentiate Dissertation Series, ISSN 1650-2140 ; 2024:02
Keywords
Source code quality, Code review analysis, Software quality improvement
National Category
Computer Systems
Research subject
Software Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-25608 (URN)978-91-7295-474-8 (ISBN)
Presentation
2024-04-12, J1630, Karlskrona, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
ELLIIT - The Linköping‐Lund Initiative on IT and Mobile Communications
Available from: 2024-03-13 Created: 2024-03-13 Last updated: 2024-03-21Bibliographically approved

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Iftikhar, UmarBörstler, JürgenAli, Nauman bin

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