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Software Documentation Issues Unveiled

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Proceedings (peer-reviewed)
Author Aghajani Emad, Nagy Csaba, Vega-Márquez Olga Lucero, Vasquez Mario Linares, Moreno Laura, Bavota Gabriele, Lanza Michele,
Project PROBE - Live Actionable Software Analytics
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Proceedings (peer-reviewed)

Page(s) 1199 - 1210
Title of proceedings Proceedings of ICSE 2019 (41st International Conference on Software Engineering)

Open Access

URL https://www.inf.usi.ch/lanza/Downloads/Agha2019a.pdf
Type of Open Access Repository (Green Open Access)

Abstract

(Good) Software documentation provides developers and users with a description of what a software system does, how it operates, and how it should be used. For example, technical documentation (e.g., an API reference guide) aids developers during evolution/maintenance activities, while a user manual explains how users are to interact with a system. Despite its intrinsic value, the creation and the maintenance of documen- tation is often neglected, negatively impacting its quality and usefulness, ultimately leading to a generally unfavorable take on documentation. Previous studies investigating documentation issues have been based on surveying developers, which naturally leads to a somewhat biased view of problems affecting documentation. We present a large scale empirical study, where we mined, analyzed, and categorized 878 documentation-related artifacts stemming from four different sources, namely mailing lists, Stack Overflow discussions, issue repositories, and pull requests. The result is a detailed taxonomy of documentation issues from which we infer a series of actionable proposals both for researchers and practitioners.
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