The Impact of Code Review on Architectural Changes

Matheus Paixao, Jens Krinke, DongGyun Han, Chaiyong Ragkhitwetsagul, Mark Harman
2019 IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering  
Although considered one of the most important decisions in the software development lifecycle, empirical evidence on how developers perform and perceive architectural changes remains scarce. Architectural decisions have far-reaching consequences yet, we know relatively little about the level of developers' awareness of their changes' impact on the software's architecture. We also know little about whether architecture-related discussions between developers lead to better architectural changes.
more » ... o provide a better understanding of these questions, we use the code review data from 7 open source systems to investigate developers' intent and awareness when performing changes alongside the evolution of the changes during the reviewing process. We extracted the code base of 18,400 reviews and 51,889 revisions. 4,171 of the reviews have changes in their computed architectural metrics, and 731 present significant changes to the architecture. We manually inspected all reviews that caused significant changes and found that developers are discussing the impact of their changes on the architectural structure in only 31% of the cases, suggesting a lack of awareness. Moreover, we noticed that in 73% of the cases in which developers provided architectural feedback during code review, the comments were addressed, where the final merged revision tended to exhibit higher architectural improvement than reviews in which the system's structure is not discussed.
doi:10.1109/tse.2019.2912113 fatcat:t6z5wr43azdjfbbnh7bazlnlum