"I know it when i see it" - Perceptions of code quality: ITiCSE'17 working group report

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


  • Jürgen Börstler
  • Harald Störrle
  • Daniel Toll
  • Jelle Van Assema
  • Rodrigo Duran

  • Sara Hooshangi
  • Johan Jeuring
  • Hieke Keuning
  • Carsten Kleiner
  • Bonnie MacKellar

Research units

  • Blekinge Institute of Technology
  • QAware GmbH
  • Linnaeus University
  • University of Amsterdam
  • George Washington University
  • Utrecht University
  • Windesheim University of Applied Sciences
  • Hanover University of Applied Sciences and Arts
  • St. John's University


Context. Code quality is a key issue in software development. The ability to develop high quality software is therefore a key learning goal of computing programs. However, there are no universally accepted measures to assess the quality of code and current standards are considered weak. Furthermore, there are many facets to code quality. Defining and explaining the concept of code quality is therefore a challenge faced by many educators. Objectives. In this working group, we investigated code quality as perceived by students, educators, and professional developers, in particular, the differences in their views of code quality and which quality aspects they consider as more or less important. Furthermore, we investigated their sources for information about code quality and its assessment. Methods. We interviewed 34 students, educators and professional developers regarding their perceptions of code quality. For the interviews they brought along code from their own experience to discuss and exemplify code quality. Results. There was no common definition of code quality among or within these groups. Quality was mostly described in terms of indicators that could measure an aspect of code quality. Among these indicators, readability was named most frequently by all groups. The groups showed significant differences in the sources they use for learning about code quality with education ranked lowest in all groups. Conclusions. Code quality should be discussed more thoroughly in educational programs.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationITiCSE-WGR 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ITiCSE Conference on Working Group Reports
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2018
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventITiCSE Conference on Working Group Reports - Bologna, Italy
Duration: 3 Jul 20175 Jul 2017


ConferenceITiCSE Conference on Working Group Reports
Abbreviated titleITiCSE-WGR

    Research areas

  • Code quality, Programming

ID: 29743896