SPLASH 2014
Mon 20 - Fri 24 October 2014 Portland, Oregon, United States
Tue 21 Oct 2014 10:30 - 10:52 at Salon D - Session 2 Chair(s): Craig Anslow

Previous studies focus on the specific questions software engineers ask when evolving a codebase. Though these studies observe developers using statically typed languages, little is known about the developer questions using dynamically typed languages. Dynamically typed languages present new challenges to understanding and navigating in a codebase and could affect results reported by previous studies.

This paper replicates a previous study and presents the analysis of six programming sessions made in Pharo, a dynamically typed language. We found a similar result when comparing sessions on an unfamiliar codebase with the previous work. Our result on the familiar code greatly deviates from the replicated study, likely caused by different tasks and development strategies. Both missing type information and test driven development affected participant behavior and prudence on codebase understanding, where some participants made changes based on assumptions.

We provide a set of questions that are useful in characterizing activity related to the use of a dynamically typed language and test-driven development—questions not explicitly considered in previous research. We also present a number of issues that we would like to discuss during the PLATEAU workshop.