Was self-admitted technical debt removal a real removal? An in-depth perspective

Fiorella Zampetti, Alexander Serebrenik, Massimiliano Di Penta

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
150 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Technical Debt (TD) has been defined as "code being not quite right yet", and its presence is often self-admitted by developers through comments. The purpose of such comments is to keep track of TD and appropriately address it when possible. Building on a previous quantitative investigation by Maldonado et al. on the removal of self-admitted technical debt (SATD), in this paper we perform an in-depth quantitative and qualitative study of how SATD is addressed in five Java open source projects. On the one hand, we look at whether SATD is "accidentally" removed, and the extent to which the SATD removal is being documented. We found that that (i) between 20% and 50% of SATD comments are accidentally removed while entire classes or methods are dropped, (ii) 8% of the SATD removal is acknowledged in commit messages, and (iii) while most of the changes addressing SATD require complex source code changes, very often SATD is addressed by specific changes to method calls or conditionals. Our results can be used to better plan TD management or learn patterns for addressing certain kinds of TD and provide recommendations to developers.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2018 ACM/IEEE 15th International Conference on Mining Software Repositories, MSR 2018
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages526-536
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-5716-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2018
Event15th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Mining Software Repositories, MSR 2018, co-located with the 40th International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2018 - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 28 May 201829 May 2018

Conference

Conference15th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Mining Software Repositories, MSR 2018, co-located with the 40th International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2018
Country/TerritorySweden
CityGothenburg
Period28/05/1829/05/18

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