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Call for Papers, Fourth International Workshop on Managing Technical Debt at ICSE 2013

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Fourth International Workshop on Managing Technical Debt at ICSE 2013 San Francisco, California, May 20, 2013 Submission deadline: February 7, 2013 On May 20, 2013, we will be organizing a workshop in conjunction with the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2013) in San Francisco to scrutinize the diverse issues that are related to technical debt and the software development lifecycle. We invite practitioners and researchers to join us in discussing early findings, future directions, experiences, and results. We are seeking papers on practical experience with technical debt, and approaches to evaluate and manage technical debt. The details of the call for papers and other logistics are at our workshop site.

Delivering complex, large-scale systems faces the ongoing challenge of how best to balance rapid deployment with long-term value. From the original description—"not quite right code which we postpone making it right"—various people have used the metaphor of technical debt to describe many other kinds of debts or ills of software development, encompassing broadly anything that stands in the way of deploying, selling, or evolving a software system or anything that adds to the friction from which software development endeavors suffer: test debt, people debt, architectural debt, requirement debt, documentation debt, or just an amorphous, all-encompassing software debt. Consequently, the concept of technical debt in software development has become somewhat diluted lately. Is a new requirement, function, or feature not yet implemented "requirement debt"? Do we call postponing the development of a new function "planning debt"? The metaphor is losing some of its strength on one hand. On the other hand, the practitioner community has increased interest in understanding and managing debt. This is evidenced by the large amount of discussion of the concept of technical debt in the blogosphere, and in particular in the agile software-development arena. Technical debt succinctly communicates the issues observed in large-scale, long-term projects:

  • Optimizing for the short term puts the long term into economic and technical jeopardy when debt is unmanaged.
  • Design shortcuts can give the perception of success until their consequences start slowing projects down.
  • Software-development decisions need to be actively managed and continuously analyzed as they incur cost, value, and debt.
The workshop seeks to make progress on the vision to offer software engineers a foundation for managing such tradeoffs based on models of their economic impacts. An initial workshop on managing technical debt was held at the Software Engineering Institute on June 2–4, 2010. The outcomes of this workshop and open research questions are outlined in the position paper Managing Technical Debt in Software-Reliant Systems presented at the FSE/SDP 2010 Workshop on the Future of Software Engineering Research. The second workshop was held with ICSE 2011. A summary of the workshop is available in the September 2011 issue of ACM SIGSOFT Software Engineering Notes. The third workshop was held with ICSE 2012. A summary of the workshop is available in the September 2012 issue of ACM SIGSOFT Software Engineering Notes As part of our work in communicating the value of architecting within agile development, we have been working on strategic architecture-related technical debt with Philippe Kruchten from the University of British Columbia. In addition, we propose an organization of the technical-debt landscape in the IEEE Software issue on Technical Debt. The workshop has the broader goal to discuss managing technical debt as a part of the research agenda for the software engineering field.

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Bill Pollak

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