Dataset Open Access

Sketches and Diagrams in Practice — Supplementary Material

Baltes, Sebastian; Diehl, Stephan

Sketches and diagrams play an important role in the daily work of software developers. In our paper "Sketches and Diagrams in Practice" we present the results of our research on the usage of sketches and diagrams in software engineering practice. We focused especially on their relation to the core elements of a software project, the source code artifacts. Furthermore, we wanted to assess how helpful sketches are for understanding the related source code. We intended to find out if, how, and why sketches and diagrams are archived and are thereby available for future use. Software is created with and for a wide range of stakeholders. Since sketches are often a means for communicating between these stakeholders, we were not only interested in sketches and diagrams created by software developers, but by all software practitioners, including testers, architects, project managers, as well as researchers and consultants. In a survey with 394 software ‘practitioners’, we mainly asked questions about the the last sketch or diagram that they had created. Contrary to our expectations and previous work, the majority of sketches and diagrams contained at least some UML elements. However, most of them were informal. The most common purposes for creating sketches and diagrams were designing, explaining, and understanding, but analyzing requirements was also named often. More than half of the sketches and diagrams were created on analog media like paper or whiteboards and have been revised after creation. Most of them were used for more than a week and were archived. About half of the sketches were rated as helpful to understand the related source code artifact(s) in the future. Our study complements a number of existing studies on the use of sketches and diagrams in software development, which analyzed the above aspects only in parts and often focused on an academic environment, a single company, open source projects, or were limited to a small group of participants.

The questionnaire for the online survey was online from August 28, 2013 until December 31, 2013. Further information on our research design and research questions can be found in the referenced paper. This dataset contains the questionnaire, the data we collected during this survey, and a basic R script that can be used as a starting point for validating our results and further exploring the data. This data set has been reviewed and accepted by the Artifact Evaluation Committee of FSE 2014. Since we assured our participants that their data is handled confidentially, only the quantitative data is directly available here. If you are also interested in the qualitative data from our survey, don’t hesitate to contact the authors.

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  • Baltes and Diehl - Sketches and Diagrams in Practice (FSE 2014 ):

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