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Using Version Control Data to Evaluate the Impact of Software Tools
 

Summary: Using Version Control Data to Evaluate
the Impact of Software Tools:
A Case Study of the Version Editor
David L. Atkins, Thomas Ball, Todd L. Graves, and Audris Mockus, Member, IEEE
Abstract–Software tools can improve the quality and maintainability of software, but are expensive to acquire, deploy, and maintain,
especially in large organizations. We explore how to quantify the effects of a software tool once it has been deployed in a development
environment. We present an effort-analysis method that derives tool usage statistics and developer actions from a project's change
history (version control system) and uses a novel effort estimation algorithm to quantify the effort savings attributable to tool usage. We
apply this method to assess the impact of a software tool called VE, a version-sensitive editor used in Bell Labs. VE aids software
developers in coping with the rampant use of certain preprocessor directives (similar to #if/#endif in C source files). Our analysis found
that developers were approximately 40 percent more productive when using VE than when using standard text editors.
Index Terms–Software tools, version control system, effort analysis.
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1 INTRODUCTION
WHILE software tools have the potential to improve the
quality and maintainability of software, acquiring,
deploying, and maintaining a tool in a large organization
can be an expensive proposition. We explore how to
quantify the effects of a software tool in an ongoing large-
scale software project. We describe a case study of the

  

Source: Atkins, David - Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Oregon

 

Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences