The Impact of UML Documentation on Software Maintenance: An Experimental Evaluation

Author(s): Erik Arisholm, Lionel C. Briand, Siw Elisabeth Hove, Yvan Labiche
Venue: Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on, Vol. 32, No. 6.
Date: 2006


This paper addresses the concerns that the MDA paradigm is expensive and is not cost-effective. Specifically this paper looks into the usefulness of UML documentation in terms of software maintenance. The authors believe that UML documentation can be useful in software maintenance because maintanence is often preformed by persons who did not originally write the code.

The authors attempts to evaluate the impact of using UML modeling on the correctness and effort of performing changes. To accomplish this the authors set conducted two controlled experiments using computer science undergraduate student who were proficient with object-oriented programming and UML.

In both stuies the results indicate that the subjects receiving UML documentation spent on average 25 percent less time to solve the tasks than did the subjects without UML documentation. Furthermore UML leads to increased time when accounting for the modification of models. When considering only code modification time, the UML subjects seem to take more time.