Comparing Reading Techniques for Object-Oriented Design Inspection

Katsuro INOUE

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E87-D    No.4    pp.976-984
Publication Date: 2004/04/01
Online ISSN: 
Print ISSN: 0916-8532
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Software Engineering
software inspection,  reading technique,  controlled experiment,  unified modelling language,  

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For more than twenty-five years software inspections have been considered an effective method for defect detection. Inspections have been investigated through controlled experiments in university environment and industry case studies. However, in most cases software inspections have been used for defect detection in documents of conventional structured development process. Therefore, there is a significant lack of information about how inspections should be applied to Object-Oriented artifacts, such as Object-Oriented code and design diagrams. In addition, extensive work is needed to determine whether some inspection techniques can be more beneficial than others. Most inspection experiments include inspection meetings after individual inspection is completed. However, several researchers suggested that inspection meetings may not be necessary since an insignificant number of new defects are found as a result of inspection meeting. Moreover, inspection meetings have been found to suffer from process loss. This paper presents the findings of a controlled experiment that was conducted to investigate the performance of individual inspectors as well as 3-person teams in Object-Oriented design document inspection. Documents were written using the notation of Unified Modelling Language. Two reading techniques, namely Checklist-based reading (CBR) and Perspective-based reading (PBR), were used during experiment. We found that both techniques are similar with respect to defect detection effectiveness during individual inspection as well as during inspection meetings. Investigating the usefulness of inspection meetings, we found out that the teams that used CBR technique exhibited significantly smaller meeting gains (number of new defect first found during team meeting) than meeting losses (number of defects first identified by an individual but never included into defect list by a team); meanwhile the meeting gains were similar to meeting losses of the teams that used PBR technique. Consequently, CBR 3-person team meetings turned out to be less beneficial than PBR 3-person team meetings.