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Variations on Using Propagation Costs to Measure Architecture Modifiabilty Properties

September 2013 Conference Paper
Robert Nord, Ipek Ozkaya, Raghvinder Sangwan, Julien Delange, Marco Gonzalez-Rojas (University of British Columbia), Philippe Kruchten

Demonstrates how enhancing the propogation metric based on architectural metrics results in enhancements detection of modifiability properties not detectable by the propagation cost metric.


This paper was first published in the proceedings of the 29th IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance.

Tools available for measuring the modifiability or impact of change of a system through its architecture typically use structural metrics. These metrics take into account dependencies among the different elements of a system. However, they fail to capture the semantics of an architectural transformation necessary to control the complexity and cost of making changes. To highlight such limitations, this paper presents a study where we applied a representative structural metric, called 'propagation cost,' to archetypical architectural transformations known to affect system modifiability such as rearchitecting a tightly coupled system to a layered pattern. We observe that in its original form the propagation cost metric does not  provide consistent indications of architecture health. Enhancing this metric based on the semantics of the architectural pattern and tactics used on the transformation show improvements. Our results demonstrate that these enhancements detect modifiability properties that are not detectable by the propagation cost metric.