Supporting Software Evolution in the Organizations

Nicolas Anquetil 1
1 RMOD - Analyses and Languages Constructs for Object-Oriented Application Evolution
LIFL - Laboratoire d'Informatique Fondamentale de Lille, Inria Lille - Nord Europe
Abstract : Software systems are now so intrinsically part of our lives that we don't see them any more. They run our phones, our cars, our leisures, our banks, our shops, our cities … This brings a significant burden on the software industry. All these systems need to be updated, corrected, and enhanced as the users and consumers have new needs. As a result, most of the software engineering activity may be classified as Software Maintenance, “the totality of activities required to provide cost-effective support to a software system”.In an ecosystem where processing power for computers, and many other relevant metrics such as disk capacity or network bandwidth, doubles every 18 months (“Moore's Law”), technologies evolve at a fast pace. In this ecosystem, software maintenance suffers from the drawback of having to address the past (past languages, existing systems, old technologies). It is often ill-perceived, and treated as a punishment. Because of this, solutions and tools for software maintenance have long lagged far behind those for new software development. For example, the antique approach of manually inserting traces in the source code to understand the execution path is still a very valid one.All my research activity focused on helping people to do software maintenance in better conditions or more efficiently. An holistic approach of the problem must consider the software that has to be maintained, the people doing it, and the organization in which and for which it is done. As such, I studied different facets of the problem that will be presented in three parts in this document: Software: The source code is the center piece of the maintenance activity. Whatever the task (ex: enhancement or bug correction), it typically comes down to understand the current source code and find out what to change and/or add to make it behave as expected. I studied how to monitor the evolution of the source code, how to prevent it's decaying and how to remedy bad situations; People: One of the fundamental asset of people dealing with maintenance is the knowledge they have, of computer science (programming techniques), of the application domain, of the software itself. It is highly significant that from 40% to 60% of software maintenance time is spent reading the code to understand what it does, how it does it, how it can be changed; Organization: Organizations may have a strong impact on the way activities such as software maintenance are performed by their individual members. The support offered within the organization, the constraints they impose, the cultural environment, all affect how easy or difficult it can be to do the tasks and therefore how well or badly they can be done. I studied some software maintenance processes that organizations use.In this document, the various research topics I addressed, are organized in a logical way that does not always respect the chronological order of events. I wished to highlight, not only the results of the research, through the publications that attest to them, but also the collaborations that made them possible, collaboration with students or fellow researchers. For each result presented here, I tried to summarize as much as possible the discussion of the previous state of the art and the result itself. First because, more details can easily be found in the referenced publications, but also because some of this research is quite old and sometimes fell in the realm of “common sense”.
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Habilitation à diriger des recherches
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Submitted on : Monday, November 24, 2014 - 8:00:56 PM
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Nicolas Anquetil. Supporting Software Evolution in the Organizations. Programming Languages [cs.PL]. universite de Liile-1, 2014. ⟨tel-01086785⟩

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