Empirical Software Engineering

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 1264–1304 | Cite as

Exception handling bug hazards in Android

Results from a mining study and an exploratory survey
  • Roberta CoelhoEmail author
  • Lucas Almeida
  • Georgios Gousios
  • Arie van Deursen
  • Christoph Treude


Adequate handling of exceptions has proven difficult for many software engineers. Mobile app developers in particular, have to cope with compatibility, middleware, memory constraints, and battery restrictions. The goal of this paper is to obtain a thorough understanding of common exception handling bug hazards that app developers face. To that end, we first provide a detailed empirical study of over 6,000 Java exception stack traces we extracted from over 600 open source Android projects. Key insights from this study include common causes for system crashes, and common chains of wrappings between checked and unchecked exceptions. Furthermore, we provide a survey with 71 developers involved in at least one of the projects analyzed. The results corroborate the stack trace findings, and indicate that developers are unaware of frequently occurring undocumented exception handling behavior. Overall, the findings of our study call for tool support to help developers understand their own and third party exception handling and wrapping logic.


Exception handling Android development Repository mining Exploratory survey 



This work is partially supported by the National Institute of Science and Technology for Software Engineering (INES), CNPq and FACEPE, grants 573964/2008-4, 552645/2011-7, and APQ-1037-1.03/08, CNPq Universal grant 484209/2013-2, and CAPES/PROAP.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberta Coelho
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lucas Almeida
    • 1
    • 2
  • Georgios Gousios
    • 3
  • Arie van Deursen
    • 3
  • Christoph Treude
    • 4
  1. 1.Federal University of Rio Grande do NorteNatal/RNBrazil
  2. 2.Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Rio Grande do NorteCampus São Gonçalo do Amarante.São Gonçalo do AmaranteBrazil
  3. 3.Delft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  4. 4.University of Adelaide, School of Computer ScienceAdelaideAustralia

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