The Adherence of Open Source Java Programmers to Standard Coding Practices

The 6th IASTED International Conference Software Engineering and Applications, Cambridge, MA, November 2002.

Mahmoud Elish and Jeff Offutt.


The use of agreed-upon coding practices is believed to enhance program comprehension, which directly affects reuse and maintainability. This paper describes a controlled small-scale experiment that tries to determine how well open source Java programmers adhere to a set of well publicized coding practices. The experiment evaluated 100 arbitrarily selected open source Java classes from different programmers with respect to 16 standard coding practices. The results of this experiment indicate that open source Java programmers do not always adhere to standard coding practices. It was found that only 4% of the subject classes have no violations to any of the 16 standard coding practices and there were only 5 of 16 coding practices that all subjects followed. It was also found that there are positive correlations between the number of violations found in a class and its lines-of-code, number of methods, and number of attributes.

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