UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Do developers respond to code stability warnings? Foss, Sylvie L.


Ideally, developers would always release code without bugs. Given the impossibility of achieving this ideal, there has been growing interest in ways to alert a developer earlier in the development process to code that may be more bug prone. A recent study found Google developers were unsure of how to act on file-level bug prediction information provided during code reviews as developers were confused about how files were flagged and how potential problems indicated by flagged files could be addressed. We hypothesize that developers may find simpler information provided earlier than code reviews easier to act upon. We introduce a plugin we built called ChangeMarkup that indicates code age and commit sizes via per-line markers in the editor. To understand if this approach has value, we performed a field study with five industry participants working on JavaScript code; our rationale was that warnings might be of more use to developers working in a dynamic language. We found that participants were interested in whether code is recent but do not care precisely how recent and that participants are generally unwilling to change their work habits in response to code stability warnings, regardless of the indicated risk level of performing an edit. Reasons for this relucatance were limited choice as to which edits must be performed and how, a reliance on resilient company release procedures such as dark launching, and confidence in their own work. Based on participant feedback, we propose future adaptations of ChangeMarkup such as an adaptive plugin that anticipates developer activities and presents information accordingly, and a version further simplified to mark only the most recently committed code.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada