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Would static analysis tools help developers with code reviews?


Panichella, Sebastiano; Arnaoudova, Venera; Di Penta, Massimiliano; Antoniol, Giuliano (2015). Would static analysis tools help developers with code reviews? In: 2015 IEEE 22nd International Conference on Software Analysis, Evolution and Reengineering (SANER), Montreal, QC, Canada, 2 April 2015 - 6 April 2015, 161-170.

Abstract

Code reviews have been conducted since decades in software projects, with the aim of improving code quality from many different points of view. During code reviews, developers are supported by checklists, coding standards and, possibly, by various kinds of static analysis tools. This paper investigates whether warnings highlighted by static analysis tools are taken care of during code reviews and, whether there are kinds of warnings that tend to be removed more than others. Results of a study conducted by mining the Gerrit repository of six Java open source projects indicate that the density of warnings only slightly vary after each review. The overall percentage of warnings removed during reviews is slightly higher than what previous studies found for the overall project evolution history. However, when looking (quantitatively and qualitatively) at specific categories of warnings, we found that during code reviews developers focus on certain kinds of problems. For such categories of warnings the removal percentage tend to be very high, often above 50% and sometimes up to 100%. Examples of those are warnings in the imports, regular expressions, and type resolution categories. In conclusion, while a broad warning detection might produce way too many false positives, enforcing the removal of certain warnings prior to the patch submission could reduce the amount of effort provided during the code review process.

Abstract

Code reviews have been conducted since decades in software projects, with the aim of improving code quality from many different points of view. During code reviews, developers are supported by checklists, coding standards and, possibly, by various kinds of static analysis tools. This paper investigates whether warnings highlighted by static analysis tools are taken care of during code reviews and, whether there are kinds of warnings that tend to be removed more than others. Results of a study conducted by mining the Gerrit repository of six Java open source projects indicate that the density of warnings only slightly vary after each review. The overall percentage of warnings removed during reviews is slightly higher than what previous studies found for the overall project evolution history. However, when looking (quantitatively and qualitatively) at specific categories of warnings, we found that during code reviews developers focus on certain kinds of problems. For such categories of warnings the removal percentage tend to be very high, often above 50% and sometimes up to 100%. Examples of those are warnings in the imports, regular expressions, and type resolution categories. In conclusion, while a broad warning detection might produce way too many false positives, enforcing the removal of certain warnings prior to the patch submission could reduce the amount of effort provided during the code review process.

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4 citations in Web of Science®
11 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
Language:English
Event End Date:6 April 2015
Deposited On:02 Jun 2015 08:01
Last Modified:17 Aug 2017 09:38
Publisher:IEEE
ISBN:978-1-4799-8469-5
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1109/SANER.2015.7081826
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:11977

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