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Are We Speeding Up or Slowing Down? On Temporal Aspects of Code Velocity

March 2, 2023
Developer Productivity

This paper investigates how the duration of various code review periods changes over a projects' lifetime. We study four open-source software (OSS) projects: Blender, FreeBSD, LLVM, and Mozilla. We mine and analyze the characteristics of 283,235 code reviews that cover, on average, seven years' worth of development. Our main conclusion is that neither the passage of time or the project's size impact code velocity. We find that (a) the duration of various code review periods (time-to-first-response, time-to-accept, and time-to-merge) for FreeBSD, LLVM, and Mozilla either becomes shorter or stays the same; no directional trend is present for Blender, (b) an increase in the size of the code bases (annually 3-17%) does not accompany a decrease in code velocity, and (c) for FreeBSD, LLVM, and Mozilla, the 30-day moving median stays in a fixed range for time-to-merge. These findings do not change with variabilities in code churn metrics, such as the number of commits or distinct authors of code changes.

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Gunnar Kudrjavets
Nachiappan Nagappan
Ayushi Rastogi
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