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“To Clean Code or Not to Clean Code” A Survey Among Practitioners

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Product-Focused Software Process Improvement (PROFES 2022)


Context: Writing code that is understandable by other collaborators has become crucial to enhancing collaboration and productivity. Clean Code has become one of the most relevant software craftsmanship practices and has been widely embraced as a synonym for code quality by software developers and software development organizations all over the world. However, very little is known regarding whether developers agree with Clean Code principles and how they apply them in practice.

Objectives: In this work, we investigated how developers perceive Clean Code principles, whether they believe that helps reading, understanding, reusing, and modifying Clean Code, and how they keep their code clean.

Methods: We conducted a Systematic Literature Review in which we screened 771 research papers to collect Clean Code principles and a survey among 39 practitioners, some of them with more than 20 years of development experience.

Results: So far, the results show a shared agreement with Clean Code principles and their potential benefits. They also show that developers tend to write “messy” code to be refactored later.

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  1. 1.

    We applied the abovementioned inclusion and exclusion criteria to define the start set and during the snowballing iterations.

  2. 2.

    The questionnaire is available for download in the companion materials in Zenodo DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.6973656.

  3. 3.

  4. 4.

    As the one shown in Fig. 1.(e).

  5. 5.

    The complete results of the Wilcoxon signed-rank test are available in the companion materials in Zenodo DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.6973656.

  6. 6.

    The additional explanations for each principle is available in the companion materials in Zenodo DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.6973656.


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This research was supported by the KKS foundation through the SHADE KKS Hög project (Ref: 20170176) and through the KKS SERT Research Profile project (Ref. 2018010) Blekinge Institute of Technology.

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Correspondence to Javier Gonzalez-Huerta .

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Ljung, K., Gonzalez-Huerta, J. (2022). “To Clean Code or Not to Clean Code” A Survey Among Practitioners. In: Taibi, D., Kuhrmann, M., Mikkonen, T., Klünder, J., Abrahamsson, P. (eds) Product-Focused Software Process Improvement. PROFES 2022. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 13709. Springer, Cham.

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