Date Awarded

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Computer Science


Denys Poshyvanyk

Committee Member

Weizhen Mao

Committee Member

Xu Liu

Committee Member

Peter Kemper

Committee Member

Nicholas A. Craft


Software artifacts, such as database schema and unit test cases, constantly change during evolution and maintenance of software systems. Co-evolution of code and DB schemas in Database-Centric Applications (DCAs) often leads to two types of challenging scenarios for developers, where (i) changes to the DB schema need to be incorporated in the source code, and (ii) maintenance of a DCAs code requires understanding of how the features are implemented by relying on DB operations and corresponding schema constraints. On the other hand, the number of unit test cases often grows as new functionality is introduced into the system, and maintaining these unit tests is important to reduce the introduction of regression bugs due to outdated unit tests. Therefore, one critical artifact that developers need to be able to maintain during evolution and maintenance of software systems is up-to-date and complete documentation. In order to understand developer practices regarding documenting and maintaining these software artifacts, we designed two empirical studies both composed of (i) an online survey of contributors of open source projects and (ii) a mining-based analysis of method comments in these projects. We observed that documenting methods with database accesses and unit test cases is not a common practice. Further, motivated by the findings of the studies, we proposed three novel approaches: (i) DBScribe is an approach for automatically documenting database usages and schema constraints, (ii) UnitTestScribe is an approach for automatically documenting test cases, and (iii) TeStereo tags stereotypes for unit tests and generates html reports to improve the comprehension and browsing of unit tests in a large test suite. We evaluated our tools in the case studies with industrial developers and graduate students. In general, developers indicated that descriptions generated by the tools are complete, concise, and easy to read. The reports are useful for source code comprehension tasks as well as other tasks, such as code smell detection and source code navigation.




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