Master Thesis Defense on Test Code Comprehension: Insights from an Eye Tracker

Nov 9, 2020 09:30 — 11:00
Online (zoom)

Software maintenance is an important and time consuming task during the software development cycle. Readability of test code is a crucial element for performing programming tasks, such as testing, bug fixing and maintaining code. Hence poorly written tests are difficult to maintain and lose their value to developers. In order to overcome this problem, we need to understand how programmers read test code. Therefore in this paper we conducted an empirical study to analyse the various reading patterns in novices and professionals using a sophisticated eye tracking device. Our results show that \textit{(i)} all programmers first comprehended test code and then switched between tests and production, \textit{(ii)} novices had higher fixations reading test code and assert statements and also took longer time to comprehend them, \textit{(iii)} professionals revisited the test code more than novices, \textit{(iv)} professionals had significantly lesser test code coverage than novices, and \textit{(v)} there is a significant difference in reading test code between novice and professionals.