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Challenges in Assessing Technical Debt Based on Dynamic Runtime Data

: Ciolkowski, Marcus; Guzmán, Liliana; Trendowicz, Adam; Vollmer, Anna Maria


Bures, Tomas (Ed.) ; European Organisation for Information Technology and Microelectronics -EUROMICRO-; Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers -IEEE-:
44th Euromicro Conference on Software Engineering and Advanced Applications, SEAA 2018. Proceedings : 29-31 August 2018, Prague, Czech Republic
Los Alamitos, Calif.: IEEE Computer Society Conference Publishing Services (CPS), 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5386-7382-9
ISBN: 978-1-5386-7383-6
ISBN: 978-1-5386-7384-3
Conference on Software Engineering and Advanced Applications (SEAA) <44, 2018, Prague>
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung BMBF
01IS15008D; ProDebt
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung BMBF
01IS15008A; ProDebt
Fraunhofer IESE ()
Runtime; Software; Software measurement; Tool; Testing; Interview

Existing definitions and metrics of technical debt (TD) tend to focus on static properties of software artifacts, in particular on code measurement. Our experience from software renovation projects is that dynamic aspects - runtime indicators of TD - often play a major role. In this position paper, we present insights and solution ideas gained from numerous software renovation projects at QAware and from a series of interviews held as part of the ProDebt research project. We interviewed ten practitioners from two German software companies in order to understand current requirements and potential solutions to current problems regarding TD. Based on the interview results, we motivate the need for measuring dynamic indicators of TD from the practitioners' perspective, including current practical challenges. We found that the main challenges include a lack of production-ready measurement tools for runtime indicators, the definition of proper metrics and their thresholds, as well as the interpretation of these metrics in order to understand the actual debts and derive countermeasures. Measuring and interpreting dynamic indicators of TD is especially difficult to implement for companies because the related metrics are highly dependent on runtime context and thus difficult to generalize. We also sketch initial solution ideas by presenting examples of dynamic indicators for TD and outline directions for future work.