Publication
IEEE TSE
Review

Version Control Systems: An Information Foraging Perspective

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Abstract

Version Control Systems (VCS) are an important source of information for developers. This calls for a principled understanding of developers' information seeking in VCS - both for improving existing tools and for understanding requirements for new tools. Our prior work investigated empirically how and why developers seek information in VCS: in this paper, we complement and enrich our prior findings by reanalyzing the data via a theory's lens. Using the lens of Information Foraging Theory (IFT), we present new insights not revealed by the prior empirical work. First, while looking for specific information, participants' foraging behaviors were consistent with other foraging situations in SE; therefore, prior research on IFT-based SE tool design can be leveraged for VCS. Second, in change awareness foraging, participants consumed similar diets, but in subtly different ways than in other situations; this calls for further investigations into change awareness foraging. Third, while committing changes, participants attempted to enable future foragers, but the competing needs of different foraging situations led to tensions that participants failed to balance: this opens up a new avenue for research at the intersection of IFT and SE, namely, creating forageable information. Finally, the results of using an IFT lens on these data provides some evidence as to IFT's scoping and utility for the version control domain.

Date

01 Aug 2021

Publication

IEEE TSE

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