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The evolution of the code during review: an investigation on review changes


Fregnan, Enrico; Petrulio, Fernando; Bacchelli, Alberto (2022). The evolution of the code during review: an investigation on review changes. Empirical Software Engineering, 27(7):177:1-177:49.

Abstract

Code review is a software engineering practice in which reviewers manually inspect the code written by a fellow developer and propose any change that is deemed necessary or useful. The main goal of code review is to improve the quality of the code under review. Despite the widespread use of code review, only a few studies focused on the investigation of its outcomes, for example, investigating the code changes that happen to the code under review. The goal of this paper is to expand our knowledge on the outcome of code review while re-evaluating results from previous work. To this aim, we analyze changes that happened during the review process, which we define as review changes. Considering three popular open-source software projects, we investigate the types of review changes (based on existing taxonomies) and what triggers them; also, we study which code factors in a code review are most related to the number of review changes. Our results show that the majority of changes relate to evolvability concerns, with a strong prevalence of documentation and structure changes at type-level. Furthermore, differently from past work, we found that the majority of review changes are not triggered by reviewers’ comments. Finally, we find that the number of review changes in a code review is related to the size of the initial patch as well as the new lines of code that it adds. However, other factors, such as lines deleted or the author of the review patchset, do not always show an empirically supported relationship with the number of changes.

Abstract

Code review is a software engineering practice in which reviewers manually inspect the code written by a fellow developer and propose any change that is deemed necessary or useful. The main goal of code review is to improve the quality of the code under review. Despite the widespread use of code review, only a few studies focused on the investigation of its outcomes, for example, investigating the code changes that happen to the code under review. The goal of this paper is to expand our knowledge on the outcome of code review while re-evaluating results from previous work. To this aim, we analyze changes that happened during the review process, which we define as review changes. Considering three popular open-source software projects, we investigate the types of review changes (based on existing taxonomies) and what triggers them; also, we study which code factors in a code review are most related to the number of review changes. Our results show that the majority of changes relate to evolvability concerns, with a strong prevalence of documentation and structure changes at type-level. Furthermore, differently from past work, we found that the majority of review changes are not triggered by reviewers’ comments. Finally, we find that the number of review changes in a code review is related to the size of the initial patch as well as the new lines of code that it adds. However, other factors, such as lines deleted or the author of the review patchset, do not always show an empirically supported relationship with the number of changes.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Software
Scope:Discipline-based scholarship (basic research)
Language:English
Date:20 September 2022
Deposited On:08 Mar 2023 16:25
Last Modified:29 Apr 2024 01:36
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1382-3256
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10664-022-10205-7
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:23372
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)