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Behind the Intents: An In-depth Empirical Study on Software Refactoring in Modern Code Review

Paixão, M; Uchôa, A; Bibiano, AC; Oliveira, D; Garcia, A; Krinke, J; Arvonio, E; (2020) Behind the Intents: An In-depth Empirical Study on Software Refactoring in Modern Code Review. In: Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Mining Software Repositories (MSR) 2020. (pp. pp. 125-136). ACM: Seoul, Republic of Korea. Green open access

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Abstract

Code refactorings are of pivotal importance in modern code review. Developers may preserve, revisit, add or undo refactorings through changes’ revisions. Their goal is to certify that the driving intent of a code change is properly achieved. Developers’ intents behind refactorings may vary from pure structural improvement to facilitating feature additions and bug fixes. However, there is little understanding of the refactoring practices performed by developers during the code review process. It is also unclear whether the developers’ intents influence the selection, composition, and evolution of refactorings during the review of a code change. Through mining 1,780 reviewed code changes from 6 systems pertaining to two large open-source communities, we report the first in-depth empirical study on software refactoring during code review. We inspected and classified the developers’ intents behind each code change into 7 distinct categories. By analyzing data generated during the complete reviewing process, we observe: (i) how refactorings are selected, composed and evolved throughout each code change, and (ii) how developers’ intents are related to these decisions. For instance, our analysis shows developers regularly apply non-trivial sequences of refactorings that crosscut multiple code elements (i.e., widely scattered in the program) to support a single feature addition. Moreover, we observed that new developers’ intents commonly emerge during the code review process, influencing how developers select and compose their refactorings to achieve the new and adapted goals. Finally, we provide an enriched dataset that allows researchers to investigate the context and motivations behind refactoring operations during the code review process.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Behind the Intents: An In-depth Empirical Study on Software Refactoring in Modern Code Review
Event: 17th International Conference on Mining Software Repositories (MSR) 2020
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Dates: 5th-6th October 2020
ISBN-13: 978-1-4503-7517-7
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1145/3379597.3387475
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1145/3379597.3387475
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10094795
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