2015 ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement (ESEM) (2015)
Oct. 22, 2015 to Oct. 23, 2015
Background: Performance bugs can lead to severe issues regarding computation efficiency, power consumption, and user experience. Locating these bugs is a difficult task because developers have to judge for every costly operation whether runtime is consumed necessarily or unnecessarily. Objective: We wanted to investigate how developers, when locating performance bugs, navigate through the code, understand the program, and communicate the detected issues. Method: We performed a qualitative user study observing twelve developers trying to fix documented performance bugs in two open source projects. The developers worked with a profiling and analysis tool that visually depicts runtime information in a list representation and embedded into the source code view. Results: We identified typical navigation strategies developers used for pinpointing the bug, for instance, following method calls based on runtime consumption. The integration of visualization and code helped developers to understand the bug. Sketches visualizing data structures and algorithms turned out to be valuable for externalizing and communicating the comprehension process for complex bugs. Conclusion: Fixing a performance bug is a code comprehension and navigation problem. Flexible navigation features based on executed methods and a close integration of source code and performance information support the process.
Computer bugs, Navigation, Runtime, Visualization, Software, Interviews, Java
S. Baltes, O. Moseler, F. Beck and S. Diehl, "Navigate, Understand, Communicate: How Developers Locate Performance Bugs," 2015 ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement (ESEM), Beijing, China, 2015, pp. 1-10.