What are the Practices used by Software Practitioners on Technical Debt Payment? Results From an International Family of Surveys
Context: Technical debt (TD) is a metaphor used to describe technical decisions that can give the company a benefit in the short term but possibly hurting the overall quality of the software in the long term. Objective: This study aims to characterize the current state of practices related to TD payment from the point of view of software practitioners. Method: We used a survey research method to collect and analyze - both quantitatively and qualitatively - a corpus of responses from a survey of 432 software practitioners from Colombia, Chile, Brazil, and the United States, as a part of the InsighTD project. Results: We were able to identify that refactoring (24.3%) was the main practice related to TD payment, along with improving testing (6.2%) and improve design (5.8%). Also, we identify that small-sized systems and big-sized systems, along with young systems (less than one year) tend to use more refactoring. As a part of these results, we also could identify that some practices do not eliminate the debt by itself, but support a favorable scenario for TD payment or prevention. Additionally, after comparing the three major TD types cited (code debt, test debt and design debt) we could discover an important similarity of TD payment practices between code debt and design debt. Lastly, we identified that no matter the cause leading to TD occurrence, refactoring remained the most common practice. Conclusion: Definition of practices related to TD payment is an essential activity for software development teams. Developing healthy software systems that can be maintained in the future requires that companies find the right approaches for TD payment.
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Boris Rainiero Perez GutierrezUniversity of Los Andes, Colombia, Cristian Camilo Castellanos RodriguezUniversidad de los Andes , Bogotá, Colombia, Dario CorrealAssociate Professor, Nicolli RiosFederal University of Bahia, Sávio FreireFederal University of Bahia and Federal Institute of Ceará, Rodrigo SpinolaUniversidade Salvador, Carolyn SeamanUniversity of Maryland Baltimore CountyLink to publication DOI