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The Influence of the Task on Programmer Behaviour

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2 Author(s)
Ying, A.T.T. ; Sch. of Comput. Sci., McGill Univ., Montreal, QC, Canada ; Robillard, M.P.

Programmers performing a change task must understand the existing software in addition to performing the actual change. This process is likely to be affected by characteristics of the task. We investigated whether the nature of a task has any relationship with when a programmer edits code during a programming session. We characterized differences in editing behaviour with three types of editing styles: edit-first, edit-last, and edit-throughout. We based our analysis on the interaction history of over 4000 programming sessions collected as part of the development history of open source projects. Our results showed that an enhancement task (as opposed to a bug fix) was less likely to be associated with a high fraction of source code edit events at the beginning of the programming session. To our surprise, we also found that the presence of a stack trace in a bug report did not significantly effect the editing style of the programming session.

Published in:

Program Comprehension (ICPC), 2011 IEEE 19th International Conference on

Date of Conference:

22-24 June 2011