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The issue of ordering class integration in the context of integration testing has been discussed by a number of researchers. More specifically, strategies have been proposed to generate a test order while minimizing stubbing. Recent papers have addressed the problem of deriving an integration order in the presence of dependency cycles in the class diagram. Such dependencies represent a practical problem as they make any topological ordering of classes impossible. Three main approaches, aimed at "breaking" cycles, have been proposed. The first one was proposed by Tai and Daniels (1999) and is based on assigning a higher-level order according to aggregation and inheritance relationships and a lower-level order according to associations. The second one was proposed by Le Traon et al. (2000) and is based on identifying strongly connected components in the dependency graph. The third one was proposed by Briand et al. (2000); it combines some of the principles of the two previous approaches and addresses some of their shortcomings (e.g., the first approach may result into unnecessary stubbing whereas the second may lead to breaking cycles by "removing" aggregation or inheritance dependencies, thus leading to complex stubbing). This paper reviews these strategies (principles are described, advantages and drawbacks are precisely investigated) and provides both analytical and empirical comparisons based on five case studies.
Date of Publication: July 2003