This Article 
   
 Share 
   
 Bibliographic References 
   
 Add to: 
 
Digg
Furl
Spurl
Blink
Simpy
Google
Del.icio.us
Y!MyWeb
 
 Search 
   
Inventive Tool Use to Comprehend Big Code
Sept.-Oct. 2008 (vol. 25 no. 5)
pp. 91-92
Sukanya Ratanotayanon, University of California, Irvine
Susan Elliott Sim, University of California, Irvine
Software developers often need to understand a large body of unfamiliar code with little or no documentation, no experts to consult, and little time to do it. A post appeared in January 2008 on Slashdot, a technology news Web site, asking for tools and techniques that could help. This article analyzes 301 often passionate and sometimes articulate responses to this query, including the themes and the associated tool recommendations. The most common suggestions were to use a code navigation tool, use a design recovery tool, use a debugger to step through the code, create a runtime trace, use problem-based learning, ask people for help, study the code from top down, and print out all the code. This analysis presents an intriguing snapshot of how software developers in industry go about comprehending big code.

2. K. Brade et al., "Whorf: A Visualization Tool for Software Maintenance," Proc. 1992 IEEE Workshop Visual Languages, IEEE Press, 1992, pp. 148–154.

Index Terms:
software maintenance, program comprehension, navigation and visualization tools
Citation:
Sukanya Ratanotayanon, Susan Elliott Sim, "Inventive Tool Use to Comprehend Big Code," IEEE Software, vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 91-92, Sept.-Oct. 2008, doi:10.1109/MS.2008.118
Usage of this product signifies your acceptance of the Terms of Use.