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Comparing distributed and face-to-face meetings for software architecture evaluation: A controlled experiment

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>02/2008
<mark>Journal</mark>Empirical Software Engineering
Issue number1
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)39-62
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Scenario-based methods for evaluating software architecture require a large number of stakeholders to be collocated for evaluation meetings. Collocating stakeholders is often an expensive exercise. To reduce expense, we have proposed a framework for supporting software architecture evaluation process using groupware systems. This paper presents a controlled experiment that we conducted to assess the effectiveness of one of the key activities, developing scenario profiles, of the proposed groupware-supported process of evaluating software architecture. We used a cross-over experiment involving 32 teams of three 3rd and 4th year undergraduate students. We found that the quality of scenario profiles developed by distributed teams using a groupware tool were significantly better than the quality of scenario profiles developed by face-to-face teams (p < 0.001). However, questionnaires indicated that most participants preferred the face-to-face arrangement (82%) and 60% thought the distributed meetings were less efficient. We conclude that distributed meetings for developing scenario profiles are extremely effective but that tool support must be of a high standard or participants will not find distributed meetings acceptable.