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The Role of Method Chains and Comments in Software Readability and Comprehension – An Experiment
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering. (SERL-Sweden)
2016 (English)In: IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, ISSN 0098-5589, E-ISSN 1939-3520Article in journal (Refereed) In press
Abstract [en]

Software readability and comprehension are important factors in software maintenance. There is a large body of research on software measurement, but the actual factors that make software easier to read or easier to comprehend are not well understood. In the present study, we investigate the role of method chains and code comments in software readability and comprehension. Our analysis comprises data from 104 students with varying programming experience. Readability and comprehension were measured by perceived readability, reading time and performance on a simple cloze test. Regarding perceived readability, our results show statistically significant differences between comment variants, but not between method chain variants. Regarding comprehension, there are no significant differences between method chain or comment variants. Student groups with low and high experience, respectively, show significant differences in perceived readability and performance on the cloze tests. Our results do not show any significant relationships between perceived readability and the other measures taken in the present study. Perceived readability might therefore be insufficient as the sole measure of software readability or comprehension. We also did not find any statistically significant relationships between size and perceived readability, reading time and comprehension.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IEEE Computer Society, 2016.
Keyword [en]
Software readability, software comprehension, software measurement, comments, method chains, experiment
National Category
Software Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-11730DOI: 10.1109/TSE.2016.2527791OAI: diva2:912345
Available from: 2016-03-16 Created: 2016-03-16 Last updated: 2016-03-18Bibliographically approved

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