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Evaluating Inheritance Depth on the Maintainability of Object-Oriented Software

 
: Daly, J.; Brooks, A.; Miller, J.; Roper, M.; Wood, M.

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Empirical Software Engineering 1 (1996), Nr.2, S.109-132 : Ill., Lit.
ISSN: 1382-3256
Englisch
Zeitschriftenaufsatz
Fraunhofer IESE ()
empirical; experiment; inheritance; maintenance; object-oriented

Abstract
This empirical research was undertaken as part of a multi-method programme of research to investigate unsupported claims made of object-oriented technology. A series of subject-based laboratory experiments, including an internal replication, tested the effect of inheritance depth on the maintainability of object-oriented software. Subjects were timed performing identical maintenance tasks on object-oriented software with a hierarchy of three levels of inheritance depth and equivalent object-based software with no inheritance. This was then replicated with more experienced subjects. In a second experiment of similar design, subjects were timed performing identical maintenance tasks on object-oriented software with a hierarchy of five levels of inheritance depth and the equivalent object-based software. The collected data showed that subjects maintaining object-oriented software with three levels of inheritance depth performed the maintenance tasks significantly quicker than those mainta ining equivalent object-based software with no inheritance. In contrast, subjects maintaining the object-oriented software with five levels of inheritance depth took longer, on average, than the subjects maintaining the equivalent object-based software (although statistical significance was not obtained). Subjects` source code solutions and debriefing questionnaires provided some evidence suggesting subjects began to experience difficulties with the deeper inheritance hierarchy. It is not at all obvious that object-oriented software is going to be more maintainable in the long run. These findings are sufficiently important that attempts to verify the results should be made by independent researchers.

: http://publica.fraunhofer.de/dokumente/PX-13223.html