An Empirical Study of Software Developers’ Management of Dependencies and Changes

Author(s): Cleidson R. B. de Souza and David F. Redmiles
Venue: Proceedings of the 30th international conference on Software engineering
Date: 2008



Different approaches and tools have been proposed to identify the potential consequences of a change. This paper describes the empirical study of two software development teams and the strategies (through the presentation of ethnographic data) used by the developers to handle the effect of software dependencies and changes in their work.

The first study involves a software application called MVP which is a nine year old project consisting of approximately one million lines of C and C++. The software development team is split into two groups: the developers (25 members) and the verification and validation team (6 members). The author spent 8 weeks with the team and interviewed team members 45 to 120 minutes according to availability.

The second field study was of a software development company named BSC and their project MCW. The project staff included 57 software engineers, user-interface designers, software architects, and managers divided into 5 different teams: lead, client, server, infrastructure, and test.

The results of the study focused more upon individual approaches to change impact analysis rather than organizations and teams. It details the strategies used by software developers to handle the effect of software dependencies and changes in their day to day work. Additionally, the concept of impact management is used to explain these practices and evaluate current tools.