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Contribution Details

Type Technical Report
Scope Discipline-based scholarship
Title Supporting Search and Navigation through Code Context Models
Organization Unit
  • Thomas Fritz
  • David Shepherd
  • Christoph Bräunlich
  • English
Number IFI-2012.07
Date 2012
Abstract Text To complete a change task, software developers spend a substantial amount of time navigating code to understand the relevant parts. During this investigation phase, they implicitly build context models of the elements and relations that are relevant to the task. Through an exploratory study with twelve developers completing change tasks in three open source systems, we identified important characteristics of these context models and how they are created. Our study uncovered that code context models are highly connected and that developers start tasks using a combination of search and navigation. Building upon our findings and drawing from related studies, we developed an approach to automate the generation of code context models that combines the previously distinct phases of search and navigation. We evaluated our approach, CoMoGen, against the study data. CoMoGen performed significantly better than state-of-the-art and state-of-the-practice approaches for locating initial code elements necessary for generating code context models. We believe this work represents a substantial step towards providing automated code context models that will reduce the time and effort needed for change tasks.
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