It Will Never Work in Theory

Short summaries of recent results in empirical software engineering research

2022-11-20: An Important Lecture by Alexander Serebrenik
Keywords: Noticed
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

If you work in or adjacent to the software industry, please take some time to watch this insightful and passionate lecture by Prof. Alexander Serebrenik: it’s a great summary of a wide range of research on the human side of software engineering.

2022-11-14: Pluralsight Developer Success Survey
Keywords: Survey
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

The Developer Success Lab at Pluralsight Flow (a dedicated team of developer experience researchers) has developed a short survey to help learn more about developer satisfaction and how to increase it. They’d love to hear about your successes, struggles, and lessons learned. If you are interested in participating in this survey, please forward this to your internal email lists, or share the link below. Survey link: https://pluralsight.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_06TsuT7vkoM9Pdc Expected time to take: 10 minutes. Audience: Software engineers, developers, and managers Findings from this research will be shared directly with you and your team. And in gratitude for your participation, Pluralsight will...

2022-11-01: Tianyi Zhang on Testing and Debugging Deep Learning
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Tianyi Zhang: "Interactive Debugging and Testing Support for Deep Learning." Tianyi is an assistant professor in Computer Science at Purdue University.

2022-11-01: Justin Smith on How Automated Tools Can Communicate Effective Strategies for Fixing Bugs
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Justin Smith: "How Automated Tools Can Communicate Effective Strategies for Fixing Bugs." Justin is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Lafayette College.

2022-11-01: Joanna Cecilia da Silva Santos on Code Smells in Automatically Generated Code
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Joanna Cecilia da Silva Santos: "Choose Wisely: Code Smells in Automatically Generated Code." Joanna is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Notre Dame.

2022-11-01: Sarah Nadi on Automatically Avoiding API Misuse
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Sarah Nadi: "It's Not You, It's the API: Automatically Avoiding API Misuses." Sarah is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computing Science at the University of Alberta.

2022-11-01: Mohamed Wiem Mkaouer on A Large-scale Survey of Software Refactoring
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Mohamed Wiem Mkaouer: "One Thousand and One Stories: a Large-scale Survey of Software Refactoring." Mohamed is an Assistant Professor in Software Engineering the Rochester Institute of Technology.

2022-11-01: Foutse Khomh on Finding Bugs in Deep Learning
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Foutse Khomh: "Finding Bugs in Deep Learning Programs." Foutse is a Full Professor of Software Engineering at Polytechnique Montréal.

2022-11-01: Cat Hicks on Learning in the Dark
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Cat Hicks: "It's Like Coding in the Dark: the Need for Learning Culture Within Engineering Teams." Cat leads a research team at Pluralsight Flow.

2022-11-01: Chris Brown on Recommending Tools for Finding and Fixing Software Errors
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Chris Brown: "How to Recommend Tools for Finding and Fixing Software Errors." Chris is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech.

2022-10-15: One More question
Keywords: Research Topics
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Responses to our list of software engineering research questions have prompted one additional question: How often do practitioners search for answers that exist but fail to find them or are unable to read them because of paywalls? I wouldn’t trust results of an opt-in survey because I suspect most practitioners who’ve been given the middle finger by academic paywalls wouldn’t bother to respond to one, but I have no idea how else to get an answer.

2022-09-26: Our Second Live Event
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Mike Hoye

We've wrapped up the Never Work In Theory track at Strange Loop, just announced to be the second last Strange Loop there will be. Dr. Brittany Johnson-Matthews, the primary organizer of our part of that show, did some excellent work to get us here, including choices about who to reach out to and what they might present. You'll see the results of that when the talks start coming online on the Strange Loop YouTube channel. For my part, getting our presenters ready to talk to a practitioner audience (a very different crowd than other academics) was some the most rewarding...

2022-09-19: Do Developers Really Know How to Use Git Commands?
Keywords: Stack Overflow, Tools, Usability
Reviewed by: Kolja Pluemer

Git, aptly described by the paper as a cross-platform and open-source distributed version control tool, is as popular as it is confusing and misunderstood. At least, that is an often expressed sentiment in the software development community. Now, the authors attempt to move this lament from a meme towards a quantitatively established web of validated effects. And they do a good job! In a way, this study may be seen as a complement to more qualitative approaches to the question of Git's usability. Comic expressing the cynical attitude many developers employ towards Git. Yang, Zhang, Pan, Xu, Zhou and Huang...

2022-08-30: Software Engineering Research Questions
Keywords: Research Topics
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Cross-posted from The Third Bit: I have been collecting random software engineering research ideas from friends and colleagues for more than a decade. These are the questions I’ve been asked since I started taking notes ten years ago. I apologize for not keeping track of who wanted to know, but if you’re working on any of these, please get in touch and I’ll try to track them down. Does putting documentation in code (e.g., Python’s docstrings) actually work better than keeping the documentation in separate files, and if so, by what measure(s)? Do doctest-style tests (i.e., tests embedded directly in...

2022-05-31: Margaret-Anne Storey on Productivity
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Margaret-Anne Storey: "What does 'productivity' actually mean for developers?" Margaret-Anne is a Professor at the University of Victoria in Canada. slides | transcript (English) | transcripción (Español)

2022-05-31: Katie Stolee on Searching
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Kathryn Stolee: "To search or not to search: it depends on the question." Katie is an Associate Professor at North Carolina State University. slides | transcript (English) | transcripción (Español)

2022-05-30: Igor Steinmacher on Padding Software Estimates
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Igor Steinmacher: "Negotiation and padding in software project estimates." Igor is an Assistant Professor at the Federal University of Technology - Paraná in Brazil. slides | transcript (English) | transcripción (Español)

2022-05-30: Denae Ford Robinson on Online Community Safety in Software Engineering
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Denae Ford Robinson: "Online community and safety in software engineering." Denae is a Research Scientist at Microsoft Research in the United States. slides | transcript (English) | transcripción (Español)

2022-05-27: Shane McIntosh on Mining Software Build Systems
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Shane McIntosh: "The unintended consequences of mining software build systems." Shane is an Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada. slides | transcript (English) | transcripción (Español)

2022-05-27: Brittany Johnson-Matthews on Causal Testing
Keywords: Lightning Talks
Reviewed by: Greg Wilson

Brittany Johnson-Matthews: "Causal testing: understanding the root causes of defects." Brittany is an Assistant Professor at George Mason University in the United States. slides | transcript (English) | transcripción (Español)