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@tComment: Testing Javadoc Comments to Detect Comment-Code Inconsistencies

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4 Author(s)
Shin Hwei Tan ; Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA ; Darko Marinov ; Lin Tan ; Gary T. Leavens

Code comments are important artifacts in software. Javadoc comments are widely used in Java for API specifications. API developers write Javadoc comments, and API users read these comments to understand the API, e.g., reading a Javadoc comment for a method instead of reading the method body. An inconsistency between the Javadoc comment and body for a method indicates either a fault in the body or, effectively, a fault in the comment that can mislead the method callers to introduce faults in their code. We present a novel approach, called @TCOMMENT, for testing Javadoc comments, specifically method properties about null values and related exceptions. Our approach consists of two components. The first component takes as input source files for a Java project and automatically analyzes the English text in Javadoc comments to infer a set of likely properties for a method in the files. The second component generates random tests for these methods, checks the inferred properties, and reports inconsistencies. We evaluated @TCOMMENT on seven open-source projects and found 29 inconsistencies between Javadoc comments and method bodies. We reported 16 of these inconsistencies, and 5 have already been confirmed and fixed by the developers.

Published in:

2012 IEEE Fifth International Conference on Software Testing, Verification and Validation

Date of Conference:

17-21 April 2012