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The impact of UML documentation on software maintenance: an experimental evaluation

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4 Author(s)
E. Arisholm ; Dept. of Software Eng., Simula Res. Lab., Norway ; L. C. Briand ; S. E. Hove ; Y. Labiche

The Unified Modeling Language (UML) is becoming the de facto standard for software analysis and design modeling. However, there is still significant resistance to model-driven development in many software organizations because it is perceived to be expensive and not necessarily cost-effective. Hence, it is important to investigate the benefits obtained from modeling. As a first step in this direction, this paper reports on controlled experiments, spanning two locations, that investigate the impact of UML documentation on software maintenance. Results show that, for complex tasks and past a certain learning curve, the availability of UML documentation may result in significant improvements in the functional correctness of changes as well as the quality of their design. However, there does not seem to be any saving of time. For simpler tasks, the time needed to update the UML documentation may be substantial compared with the potential benefits, thus motivating the need for UML tools with better support for software maintenance

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering  (Volume:32 ,  Issue: 6 )