Insights into software development approaches: mining Q &A repositories

Arif Ali Khan, Javed Ali Khan, Muhammad Azeem Akbar, Peng Zhou, Mahdi Fahmideh

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Context: Software practitioners adopt approaches like DevOps, Scrum, and Waterfall for high-quality software development. However, limited research has been conducted on exploring software development approaches concerning practitioners’ discussions on Q &A forums. Objective: We conducted an empirical study to analyze developers’ discussions on Q &A forums to gain insights into software development approaches in practice.
Method: We analyzed 13,903 developers’ posts across Stack Overflow (SO), Software Engineering Stack Exchange (SESE), and Project Management Stack Exchange (PMSE) forums. A mixed method approach, consisting of the topic modeling technique (i.e., Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA)) and qualitative analysis, is used to identify frequently discussed topics of software development approaches, trends (popular, difficult topics), and the challenges faced by practitioners in adopting different software development approaches.
Findings: We identified 15 frequently mentioned software development approaches topics on Q &A sites and observed an increase in trends for the top-3 most difficult topics requiring more attention. Finally, our study identified 49 challenges faced by practitioners while deploying various software development approaches, and we subsequently created a thematic map to represent these findings. Conclusions: The study findings serve as a useful resource for practitioners to overcome challenges, stay informed about current trends, and ultimately improve the quality of software products they develop.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Pages (from-to)1-38
Number of pages38
JournalEmpirical Software Engineering
Issue number1
Early online date23 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Q& A websites
  • Software development approaches
  • Software repositories mining
  • Software process improvement


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