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When developers perform a software maintenance
task, they need to identify artifacts—e.g., classes or more specifically
methods—that need to be modified. To this aim, they
can browse various kind of artifacts, for example use case
descriptions, UML diagrams, or source code.
This paper reports the results of a study—conducted with 33
participants— aimed at investigating (i) to what extent developers
use different kinds of documentation when identifying artifacts
to be changed, and (ii) whether they follow specific navigation
patterns among different kinds of artifacts.
Results indicate that, although developers spent a conspicuous
proportion of the available time by focusing on source code,
they browse back and forth between source code and either
static (class) or dynamic (sequence) diagrams. Less frequently,
developers—especially more experienced ones—follow an “integrated”
approach by using different kinds of artifacts.