To document or not to document? An exploratory study on developers’ motivation to document code

caise_2015Last week at Stockholm, Sweden, at the Conference on Advanced Information Systems Engineering (CAISE’15), my colleague Yulia Shmerlin presented our paper at the Workshop on Cognitive Aspects of Information Systems Engineering (COGNISE). This is joint work with Prof. Irit Hadar and Prof. Doron Kliger from the University of Haifa, and is a sequel to our previous paper on Documentation Debt that was published last year.

Title: To document or not to document? An exploratory study on developers’ motivation to document code

Abstract: Technical debt represents the situation in a project where developers accept compromises in one dimension of a system in order to meet urgent demands in other dimensions. These compromises incur a “debt”, on which “interest” has to be paid to maintain the long-term health of the project. One of the elements of technical debt is documentation debt due to under-documentation of the evolving system. In this exploratory study, our goal is to examine the different aspects of developers’ motivation to document code. Specifically, we aim to identify the motivating and hindering aspects of documentation as perceived by the developers. The motivating aspects of code documenting we find include improving code comprehensibility, order, and quality. The hindering aspects include developers’ perception of documenting as a tedious, difficult, and time consuming task that interrupts the coding process. These findings may serve as a basis for developing guidelines toward improving documentation practices and encouraging developers to document their code thus reducing documentation debt.

You can freely download the paper.

Below are the slides of our presentation at the workshop:

Please share your comments below.

About Hayim Makabee

Veteran software developer, enthusiastic programmer, author of a book on Object-Oriented Programming, co-founder and CEO at KashKlik, an innovative Influencer Marketing platform.
This entry was posted in Psychology of Programming, Research, Technical Debt and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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