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Examining Technical Debt Accumulation in Software Implementations

Johannes Holvitie, Ville Leppänen, Examining Technical Debt Accumulation in Software Implementations. International Journal of Software Engineering and Its Applications 9(6), 109–124, 2015.



Technical debt management requires means to identify, track, and resolve technical debt in the various software project artifacts. There are several approaches for identifying technical debt from the software implementation, but they all have their shortcomings in maintaining this information. Readily available information is a cornerstone of successful technical debt management integration. As such, this paper presents a two-partite case study that explores the role of dependency propagation in the accumulation of technical debt for software implementations. The first part, targeting a refactorization project in the ViLLE education platform, identifies a clear relation between the propagation and the accumulation in addition to making notions about special propagation characteristics. The second part considers bug reports for the Eclipse IDE, and, thus, provides further verification in observing a similar relationship at a lower implementation abstraction level for this independent data set. We conclude that formalization of this relation should lead to solutions for the technical debt information maintenance problem. As such, we use the case study herein to further improve the propagation model applied in our DebtFlag technical debt management tool.

BibTeX entry:

  title = {Examining Technical Debt Accumulation in Software Implementations},
  author = {Holvitie, Johannes and Leppänen, Ville},
  journal = {International Journal of Software Engineering and Its Applications},
  volume = {9},
  number = {6},
  publisher = {SERSC},
  pages = {109–124},
  year = {2015},
  keywords = {technical debt, technical debt propagation modeling, software implementation assessment, refactoring},
  ISSN = {1738-9984},

Belongs to TUCS Research Unit(s): Software Development Laboratory (SwDev)

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