Using Cohesion and Coupling for Software Remodularization: Is it Enough?
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Refactoring and, in particular, remodularization operations can be performed to repair the design of a software system and remove the erosion caused by software evolution. Various approaches have been proposed to support developers during the remodularization of a software system. Most of these approaches are based on the underlying assumption that developers pursue an optimal balance between cohesion and coupling when modularizing the classes of their systems. Thus, a remodularization recommender proposes a solution that implicitly provides a (near) optimal balance between such quality attributes. However, there is still no empirical evidence that such a balance is the desideratum by developers. This article aims at analyzing both objectively and subjectively the aforementioned phenomenon. Specifically, we present the results of (1) a large study analyzing the modularization quality, in terms of package cohesion and coupling, of 100 open-source systems, and (2) a survey conducted with 29 developers aimed at understanding the driving factors they consider when performing modularization tasks. The results achieved have been used to distill a set of lessons learned that might be considered to design more effective remodularization recommenders.