Do architectural design decisions improve the understanding of software architecture? two controlled experiments

Mojtaba Shahin, Peng Liang, Zengyang Li
2014 Proceedings of the 22nd International Conference on Program Comprehension - ICPC 2014  
Architectural design decision (ADD) and its design rationale, as a paradigm shift on documenting and enriching architecture design description, is supposed to facilitate the understanding of architecture and the reasoning behind the design rationale, which consequently improves the architecting process and gets better architecture design results. But the lack of empirical evaluation that supports this statement is one of the major reasons that prevent industrial practitioners from using ADDs in
more » ... their daily architecting activities. In this paper, we conducted two controlled experiments, as a family of experiments, to investigate how presence of ADDs can improve the understanding of architecture. The main results of our experiments are: (i) using ADDs and their rationale in architecture documentation does not affect the time needed for completing architecture design tasks; (ii) one experiment and the family of experiments achieved a significantly better understanding of architecture design when using ADDs; and (iii) with regard to the correctness of architecture understanding, more experienced participants benefited more from ADDs in comparison with less experienced ones.
doi:10.1145/2597008.2597139 dblp:conf/iwpc/ShahinLL14 fatcat:4ubo57elhbaujefuzf5ejztdma