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On the Temporality of Introducing Code Technical Debt

Georgios Digkas; Apostolos Ampatzoglou; Alexander Chatzigeorgiou; Paris Avgeriou

Code Technical Debt (TD) is intentionally or unintentionally created when developers introduce inefficiencies in the codebase. This can be attributed to various reasons such as heavy work-load, tight delivery schedule, unawareness of good practices, etc. To shed light into the context that leads to technical debt accumulation, in this paper we investigate: (a) the temporality of code technical debt introduction in new methods, i.e., whether the introduction of technical debt is stable across the lifespan of the project, or if its evolution presents spikes; and (b) the relation of technical debt introduction and the development team’s workload in a given period. To answer these questions, we perform a case study on twenty-seven Apache projects, and inspect the number of Technical Debt Items introduced in 6-month sliding temporal windows. The results of the study suggest that: (a) overall, the number of Technical Debt Items introduced through new code is a stable metric, although it presents some spikes; and (b) the number of commits performed is not strongly correlated to the number of introduced Technical Debt Items.

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