On the Distribution of Test Smells in Open Source Android Applications: An Exploratory Study


The impact of bad programming practices, such as code smells, in production code has been the focus of numerous studies in software engineering. Like production code, unit tests are also affected by bad programming practices which can have a negative impact on the quality and maintenance of a software system. While several studies addressed code and test smells in desktop applications, there is little knowledge of test smells in the context of mobile applications. In this study, we extend the existing catalog of test smells by identifying and defining new smells and survey over 40 developers who confirm that our proposed smells are bad programming practices in test suites. Additionally, we perform an empirical study on the occurrences and distribution of the proposed smells on 656 open-source Android applications (apps). Our findings show a widespread occurrence of test smells in apps. We also show that apps tend to exhibit test smells early in their lifetime with different degrees of co-occurrences on different smell types. This empirical study demonstrates that test smells can be used as an indicator for necessary preventive software maintenance for test suites.

Proceedings of the 29th Annual International Conference on Computer Science and Software Engineering