Speculative Analysis for Quality Assessment of Code Comments

02/18/2021 ∙ by Pooja Rani, et al. ∙ 0

Previous studies have shown that high-quality code comments assist developers in program comprehension and maintenance tasks. However, the semi-structured nature of comments, unclear conventions for writing good comments, and the lack of quality assessment tools for all aspects of comments make their evaluation and maintenance a non-trivial problem. To achieve high-quality comments, we need a deeper understanding of code comment characteristics and the practices developers follow. In this thesis, we approach the problem of assessing comment quality from three different perspectives: what developers ask about commenting practices, what they write in comments, and how researchers support them in assessing comment quality. Our preliminary findings show that developers embed various kinds of information in class comments across programming languages. Still, they face problems in locating relevant guidelines to write consistent and informative comments, verifying the adherence of their comments to the guidelines, and evaluating the overall state of comment quality. To help developers and researchers in building comment quality assessment tools, we provide: (i) an empirically validated taxonomy of comment convention-related questions from various community forums, (ii) an empirically validated taxonomy of comment information types from various programming languages, (iii) a language-independent approach to automatically identify the information types, and (iv) a comment quality taxonomy prepared from a systematic literature review.

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