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How Do Developers Search for Architectural Information? An Industrial Survey

by   Musengamana Jean de Dieu, et al.
Monash University
Wuhan University

Building software systems often requires knowledge and skills beyond what developers already possess. In such cases, developers have to leverage different sources of information to seek help. A growing number of researchers and practitioners have started investigating what programming-related information developers seek during software development. However, being a high level and a type of the most important development-related information, architectural information search activity is seldom explored. To fill this gap, we conducted an industrial survey completed by 103 participants to understand how developers search for architectural information to solve their architectural problems in development. Our main findings are: (1) searching for architectural information to learn about the pros and cons of certain architectural solutions (e.g., patterns, tactics) and to make an architecture decision among multiple choices are the most frequent purposes or tasks; (2) developers find difficulties mostly in getting relevant architectural information for addressing quality concerns and making design decisions among multiple choices when seeking architectural information; (3) taking too much time to go through architectural information retrieved from various sources and feeling overwhelmed due to the dispersion and abundance of architectural information in various sources are the top two major challenges developers face when searching for architectural information. Our findings (1) provide researchers with future directions, such as the design and development of approaches and tools for searching architectural information from multiple sources, and (2) can be used to provide guidelines for practitioners to refer to when seeking architectural information and providing architectural information that could be considered useful.


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