A Study on Developers' Perceptions about Exception Handling Bugs


Several studies argue that exception handling code usually has poor quality and that it is commonly neglected by developers. Moreover, it is said to be the least understood, documented, and tested part of the implementation of a system. However, there are very few studies that attempt to understand developers’ perceptions about exception handling, in general, and exception handling bugs, in particular. In this paper, we present the results of a survey conducted with 154 developers that aims to fill in this gap. According to the respondents of the survey, exception handling code is in fact documented and tested infrequently. Also, many of the respondents have had to fix exception handling bugs, in particular those caused by empty catch blocks or exceptions caught unintentionally. The respondents believe that exception handling bugs are more easily fixed than other kinds of bugs. Also, we found out a significant difference in the opinion of the respondents pertaining to the quality of the exception handling code: more experienced developers tend to believe that it is worse. We present a comprehensive classification of exception handling bugs based on the study results.

2013 IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance (ICSM)
Felipe Ebert
Felipe Ebert
Researcher - Teaching Assistant

My research interests are related to how software systems and developers interact with each other. I’m interested in both technical and social aspects of software maintenance, specifically code reviews, mining software repositories, and also social development aspects. In the past, I also have worked with error handling and software energy consumption.