The Secret Life of Bugs

A paper by Jorge Aranda and Gina Venolia entitled The Secret Life of Bugs: Going Past the Errors and Omissions in Software Repositories, (ACM Link) presented at ICSE 2009 presents a field study they conducted with Microsoft Developers and how they coordinate to resolve bugs from software repositories. What would be interesting is to see this study replicated on distributed open source software and software developed by smaller organizations to see what the similarities there are.

One of the implications of this paper for SoftVis researchers is to think about how we can develop tools to support some of the social and online communications to integrate with the visualizations of our tools.


Every bug has a story behind it. The people that discover and resolve it need to coordinate, to get information from documents, tools, or other people, and to navigate through issues of accountability, ownership, and organizational structure. This paper reports on a field study of coordination activities around bug fixing that used a combination of case study research and a survey of software professionals. Results show that the histories of even simple bugs are strongly dependent on social, organizational, and technical knowledge that cannot be solely extracted through automation of electronic repositories, and that such automation provides incomplete and often erroneous accounts of coordination. The paper uses rich bug histories and survey results to identify common bug fixing coordination patterns and to provide implications for tool designers and researchers of coordination in software development.

About Craig Anslow

Craig Anslow is a Lecturer in Software Engineering at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, with research interests in software visualization.
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