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Analyzing the Impact of Pull Requests to Guide Library Evolution

by   Lina Ochoa, et al.
TU Eindhoven

"If we make this change to our code, how will it impact our clients?" It is difficult for library maintainers to answer this simple – yet essential! – question when evolving their libraries. Library maintainers are constantly balancing between two opposing positions: make changes at the risk of breaking some of their clients, or avoid changes and maintain compatibility at the cost of immobility and growing technical debt. We argue that the lack of objective usage data and tool support leaves maintainers with their own subjective perception of their community to make these decisions. We introduce BreakBot, a bot that analyses the pull requests of Java libraries on GitHub to identify the breaking changes they introduce and their impact on client projects. Through static analysis of libraries and clients, it extracts and summarizes objective data that enrich the code review process by providing maintainers with the appropriate information to decide whether – and how – changes should be accepted, directly in the pull requests.


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