Do code smells reflect important maintainability aspects?
Simula Research Laboratory, Technical Report(2012-10)
Code smells are manifestations of design flaws that can degrade code maintainability. As such, the existence of code smells seems an ideal indicator for maintainability assessments. However, to achieve comprehensive and accurate evaluations based on code smells, we need to know how well they reflect factors affecting maintainability. After identifying which maintainability factors are reflected by code smells and which not, we can use complementary means to assess the factors that are not addressed by smells. This paper reports on an empirical study that investigates the extent to which code smells reflect factors affecting maintainability that have been identified as important by programmers. We consider two sources for our analysis: (1) expert-based maintainability assessments of four Java systems before they entered a maintenance project, and (2) observations and interviews with professional developers who maintained these systems during 14 working days and implemented a number of change requests. Keywords: maintainability evaluation; code smells;