CodeShovel: Constructing Method-Level Source Code Histories

CodeShovel’s web interface showing the complete history of a method.


Source code histories are commonly used by developers and researchers to reason about how software evolves. Through a survey with 42 professional software developers, we learned that developers face significant mismatches between the output provided by developers' existing tools for examining source code histories and what they need to successfully complete their historical analysis tasks. To address these shortcomings, we propose CodeShovel, a tool for uncovering method histories that quickly produces complete and accurate change histories for 90% methods (including 97% of all method changes) outperforming leading tools from both research (e.g, FinerGit) and practice (e.g., IntelliJ / git log). CodeShovel helps developers to navigate the entire history of source code methods so they can better understand how the method evolved. A field study on industrial code bases with 16 industrial developers confirmed our empirical findings of CodeShovel’s correctness, low runtime overheads, and additionally showed that the approach can be useful for a wide range of industrial development tasks.

In International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE), IEEE.
Nick Bradley
Nick Bradley
Computer Science PhD Student (Software Engineering)