Closing the gap between guidance and practice, an investigation of the relevance of design guidance to practitioners using object-oriented technologies

  • Jamie Stevenson

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis investigates if object oriented guidance is relevant in practice, and how this affects software that is produced. This is achieved by surveying practitioners and studying how constructs such as interfaces and inheritance are used in open-source systems. Surveyed practitioners framed 'good design' in terms of impact on development and maintenance. Recognition of quality requires practitioner judgement (individually and as a group), and principles are valued over rules. Time constraints heighten sensitivity to the rework cost of poor design decisions. Examination of open source systems highlights the use of interface and inheritance. There is some evidence of 'textbook' use of these structures, and much use is simple. Outliers are widespread indicating a pragmatic approach. Design is found to reflect the pressures of practice - high-level decisions justify 'designed' structures and architecture, while uncertainty leads to deferred design decisions - simpler structures, repetition, and unconsolidated design. Sub-populations of structures can be identified which may represent common trade-offs. Useful insights are gained into practitioner attitude to design guidance. Patterns of use and structure are identified which may aid in assessment and comprehension of object oriented systems.
Date of Award17 Jan 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorMurray Wood (Supervisor) & Marc Roper (Supervisor)

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