Controlled Experiment for Assessing the Contribution of Ontology Based Software Redocumentation Approach to Support Program Understanding

keywords: Software documentation, ontology, reverse engineering, software maintenance, event-driven programming, program understanding
Redocumentation is an approach that is used to recover knowledge from raw software artifacts by using alternative presentations. Several legacy systems have been developed based on event-driven programming which require redocumentation. However, these existing repository and query techniques emphasize only on lexical and syntactical based queries which come with limitations in providing the semantic relationship for program understanding. We are using ontology based approach that uses both ontology reasoning and querying techniques to generate software documentation from the knowledge repository. We present a controlled experiment for the empirical evaluation on the proposed ontology based approach and implemented in a tool called Ontology Based Software Redocumentation (OBSR). In this experiment, two existing tools namely Universal Report (UR) and Microsoft Visual Studio specifically for Visual Basic (VB) programming environment have been selected to be compared with the OBSR tool. The goal is to provide experimental evidence of the viability of our approach in the context of program understanding using HTML based semantic software documentation. The experiment shows that the software maintainers are able to understand and provide significant improvement in program understanding to accomplish the maintenance task easily. We describe in detail the experiment performed, discuss its results and reflect the lesson learned from the experiment.
reference: Vol. 40, 2021, No. 5, pp. 1025–1055