Archetypal Internet-Scale Source Code Searching

TitleArchetypal Internet-Scale Source Code Searching
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsUmarji, M, Sim, S, Lopes, C
Secondary TitleOSS2008: Open Source Development, Communities and Quality (IFIP 2.13)
Pagination257 - 263
Date Published2008///
ISSN Number978-0-387-09683-4

Programmers often search for Open Source code to use in their projects. To understand how and why programmers search for source code, we onducted a web-based survey and collected data from 69 respondents, including 58 specific examples of searches. Analyzing these anecdotes, we found that they could be categorized along two orthogonal dimensions: motivation (reuse vs. reference example) and size of search target. The targets of these searches could range in size from a block (a few lines of code) to a subsystem (e.g. library or API), to an entire system. Within these six combinations of motivations and target sizes, nine repeating motifs, or archetypes, were created to characterize Internet-scale source code searching. Tools used for searching and the criteria for selecting a component are also discussed. We conclude with guidance on how these archetypes can inform better evaluation of Internet-scale code search engines, as well as the design of new features for these tools.

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