Understanding Exception Handling: Viewpoints of Novices and Experts

Abstract

Several recent studies indicate that many industrial applications exhibit poor quality in the design of exception-handling. To improve the quality of error-handling, we need to understand the problems and obstacles that developers face when designing and implementing exception-handling. In this paper, we present our research on understanding the viewpoint of developers—novices and experts—toward exception-handling. First, we conducted a study with novice developers in industry. The study results reveal that novices tend to ignore exceptions because of the complex nature of exception-handling. Then, we conducted a second study with experts in industry to understand their perspective on exception-handling. The study results show that, for experts, exception-handling is a crucial part in the development process. Experts also confirm the novices' approach of ignoring exception-handling and provide insights as to why novices do so. After analyzing the study data, we identified factors that influence experts' strategy selection process for handling exceptions and then built a model that represents a strategy selection process experts use to handle exceptions. Our model is based on interacting modules and fault scope. We conclude with some recommendations to help novices improve their understanding of exception-handling.


Related research categories:
(1) Exception Handling
(2) Empirical Studies
(3) Qualitative Studies

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