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Aspect-oriented programming (AOP) is commonly assumed to be a technique which improves the resulting software with respect to modularity. However, previous empirical experiments suggest that AOP is with respect to development or maintenance time either a technique without a measurable benefit or a technique with a measurable negative effect. A possible reason why previous experiments were not able to show such a benefit is, that those experiments did not consider situations where AOP has its strength: situations where modules need to be frequently changed. In those situations AOP might be able to compensate a possible higher initial development effort. This paper describes an empirical, socio-technical study with Java and AspectJ where developers needed to perform changes on their code base multiple times. It shows that frequent changes in the crosscutting code which do not change the concern's underlying structure compensate an initial higher development time for those concerns. But it also shows that changes, which do alter the concern's structure again result in higher development times when using AOP.
Date of Conference: 22-24 June 2011