Feeds

Boffins untangle why your software builds fail

Dependency hell by-the-numbers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Dependency errors aren't just the bane of Linux users living the configure-make-install life: they also have a significant impact on developer productivity that could be dealt with in the tools developers use.

That's one of the conclusions arising out of a new analysis, carried out by researchers from Hong Kong, the University of Nebraska, and Google (which contributed nine months' of build data from thousands of developers to the study).

With 26 million builds as a dataset, Google is in a better position than most to help work out what lies beneath a failed job, and in this analysis, lead author Hyunmin Seo of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and his co-authors conclude that the same dependency hell that any Linux user will know well drives build fails all over the world.

The paper states that in Java builds, dependency errors accounted for about 65 per cent of build failures, and a little over half of C++ builds; type mismatches (“a variable is assigned to an incompatible type or when a function is called with wrong argument types”) caused more than 25 per cent of failed C++ builds and nearly 20 per cent of failed Java builds; with syntax, semantic, and other errors making up the rest of the failed builds.

Most of the time – Vulture South would guess this party depends on a developer's experience – build errors can be resolved fairly quickly, with the paper finding that the median resolution times were 5 minutes (C++) and 12 minutes (Java). However, the resolution time “can vary by an order of magnitude across error kinds”, which has important implications for developer productivity.

Discussing the impact of the kind of error on the fix-time, the authors note: “some compiler errors show a higher median resolution time as they are more difficult to puzzle out (non_virtual_dtor, ovl_no_viable_function_in_init, typecheck_nonviable_condition, or typename_nested_not_found), or else may take time to track down the missing dependency (pp_file_not_found).”

Fixing errors – and improving developer productivity – isn't too steep a demand, the paper finds, since no matter the language, around 10 per cent of error types accounted for 90 per cent of build fails. Hence, “better tools to resolve de-pendency errors have the greatest potential payoff”, the paper states, noting that Google is already briefing its infrastructure organisation on the subject. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.