To document or not to document? An exploratory study on developers’ motivation to document code

Yulia Shmerlin, Irit Hadar, Doron Kliger, Hayim Makabee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Technical debt represents the situation in a project where developers accept compromises in one dimension of a system in order to meet urgent demands in other dimensions. These compromises incur a “debt”, on which “interest” has to be paid to maintain the long-term health of the project. One of the elements of technical debt is documentation debt due to under-documentation of the evolving system. In this exploratory study, our goal is to examine the different aspects of developers’ motivation to document code. Specifically, we aim to identify the motivating and hindering aspects of documentation as perceived by the developers. The motivating aspects of code documenting we find include improving code comprehensibility, order, and quality. The hindering aspects include developers’ perception of documenting as a tedious, difficult, and time consuming task that interrupts the coding process. These findings may serve as a basis for developing guidelines toward improving documentation practices and encouraging developers to document their code thus reducing documentation debt.

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Business Information Processing
ISSN (Print)1865-1348


Conference2nd International Workshop on Advances in Services Design based on the Notion of Capabiliy, ASDENCA 2015, 3rd International Workshop on Cognitive Aspects of Information Systems Engineering, COGNISE 2015, 1st International Workshop on Digital Business Innovation and the Future Enterprise Information Systems Engineering, DiFenSE 2015, 1st International Workshop on Enterprise Modeling, EM 2015, 1st Workshop on the Role of Real-World Objects in Business Process Management Systems, RW-BPMS 2015, 10th International Workshop on Trends in Enterprise Architecture Researc, TEAR 2015 and 5th International Workshop on Information Systems Security Engineering, WISSE 2015 held in conjunction with 27th International Conference on Advanced Information Systems Engineering, CAiSE 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015.


  • Documentation
  • Motivation
  • Technical debt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Business and International Management
  • Information Systems
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Information Systems and Management


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