Information Foraging as a Foundation for Code Navigation

Nan Niu, Anas Mahmoud, and Gary Bradshaw
Mississippi State University, USA

A major software engineering challenge is to understand the fundamental mechanisms that underlie the developer’s code navigation behavior. We propose a novel and unified theory based on the premise that we can study developer’s information seeking strategies in light of the foraging principles that evolved to help our animal ancestors to find food. Our preliminary study on code navigation graphs suggests that the tenets of information foraging provide valuable insight into software maintenance. Our research opens the avenue towards the development of ecologically valid tool support to augment developers’ code search skills.