Identifying Design Problems in the Source Code: A Grounded Theory

Leonardo Sousa, Roberto Oliveira, Alessandro Garcia, Jaejoon Lee, Rafael de Mello, Carlos Lucena

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

44 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


The prevalence of design problems may cause re-engineering or even discontinuation of the system. Due to missing, informal or outdated design documentation, developers often have to rely on the source code to identify design problems. Therefore, developers have to analyze different symptoms that manifest in several code elements, which may quickly turn into a complex task. Although researchers have been investigating techniques to help developers in identifying design problems, there is little knowledge on how developers actually proceed to identify design problems. In order to tackle this problem, we conducted a multi-trial industrial experiment with professionals from 5 software companies to build a grounded theory. The resulting theory offers explanations on how developers identify design problems in practice. For instance, it reveals the characteristics of symptoms that developers consider helpful. Moreover, developers often combine different types of symptoms to identify a single design problem. This knowledge serves as a basis to further understand the phenomena and advance towards more effective identification techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICSE '18 Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Software Engineering
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2018

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