How Developers Search for Code: A Case Study

With the advent of large code repositories and sophisticated
search capabilities, code search is increasingly becoming a
key software development activity. In this work we shed
some light into how developers search for code through a case
study performed at Google, using a combination of survey
and log-analysis methodologies. Our study provides insights
into what developers are doing and trying to learn when performing
a search, search scope, query properties, and what a
search session under different contexts usually entails. Our
results indicate that programmers search for code very frequently,
conducting an average of five search sessions with
12 total queries each workday. The search queries are often
targeted at a particular code location and programmers are
typically looking for code with which they are somewhat familiar.
Further, programmers are generally seeking answers
to questions about how to use an API, what code does, why
something is failing, or where code is located.



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