An Ethnographic Study of Copy and Paste Programming Practices in OOPL

Although programmers frequently copy and paste code when they develop software, implications of common copy and paste (C&P) usage patterns have not been studied previously. We have conducted an ethnographic study in order to understand programmers' C&P programming practices and discover opportunities to assist common C&P usage patterns. We observed programmers using an instrumented Eclipse IDE and then analyzed why and how they use C&P operations. Based on our analysis, we constructed a taxonomy of C&P usage patterns. This paper presents our taxonomy of C&P usage patterns and discusses our insights with examples drawn from our observations. From our insights, we propose a set of tools that both can reduce software maintenance problems incurred by C&P and can better support the intents of commonly used C&P scenarios.

By: Miryung Kim, Lawrence Bergman, Tessa Lau, David Notkin

Published in: RC23217 in 2004


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