It Will Never Work in Theory

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

Inspired in part by Lambda the Ultimate, which reports on what's new in programming language research, Jorge Aranda and I have started a new blog called "It Will Never Work in Theory" to bring you the latest results in empirical studies of software engineering. The first posts discuss:

  • Rahman and Devanbu's "Ownership, Experience, and Defects: A Fine-Grained Study of Authorship", which found that code worked on by one developer (rather than many) is more often implicated in defects, but that a developer's experience with a particular file (rather than the project in general) reduces defect rates.
  • Stolee and Elbaum's "Refactoring Pipe-like Mashups for End-User Programmers", which applies the "code smells" meme to Yahoo! Pipes (and by implication shows that refactoring ideas can be applied to other end-user programming systems).
  • Mockus's "Organizational Volatility and its Effects on Software", which found that an influx of newcomers into a project doesn't increase fault rates (since they're usually given simple tasks to start with), but that organizational change can still account for about 20% of faults.

Our aim in starting this blog is to continue the work begun in Making Software: to let practitioners know what researchers have discovered, and what kinds of questions they can answer, and to give researchers feedback on what's useful, what isn't, and what they ought to look at next. We look forward to your feedback.

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