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Recognising object-oriented software design quality : a practitioner-based questionnaire survey

Stevenson, Jamie and Wood, Murray (2017) Recognising object-oriented software design quality : a practitioner-based questionnaire survey. Software Quality Journal. ISSN 1573-1367

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Design quality is vital if software is to be maintainable. What practices do developers actually use to achieve design quality in their day-to-day work and which of these do they find most useful? To discover the extent to which practitioners concern themselves with object-oriented design quality and the approaches used when determining quality in practice, a questionnaire survey of 102 software practitioners, approximately half from the UK and the remainder from elsewhere around the world was used. Individual and peer experience are major contributors to design quality. Classic design guidelines, well-known lower level practices, tools and metrics all can also contribute positively to design quality. There is a potential relationship between testing practices and design quality. Inexperience, time pressures, novel problems, novel technology, and imprecise or changing requirements may have a negative impact on quality. Respondents with most experience are more confident in their design decisions, place more value on reviews by team leads and are more likely to rate design quality as very important. For practitioners, these results identify the techniques and tools that other practitioners find effective. For researchers, the results highlight a need for more work investigating the role of experience in the design process and the contribution experience makes to quality. There is also the potential for more in-depth studies of how practitioners are actually using design guidance, including Clean Code. Lastly, the potential relationship between testing practices and design quality merits further investigation.