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Identifying Classes in Legacy JavaScript Code

Abstract : JavaScript is the most popular programming language for the Web. Although the language is prototype-based, developers can emulate class-based abstractions in JavaScript to master the increasing complexity of their applications. Identifying classes in legacy JavaScript code can support these developers at least in the following activities: (i) program comprehension; (ii) migration to the new JavaScript syntax that supports classes; and (iii) implementation of supporting tools, including IDEs with class-based views and reverse engineering tools. In this paper, we propose a strategy to detect class-based abstractions in the source code of legacy JavaScript systems. We report on a large and in-depth study to understand how class emulation is employed, using a dataset of 918 JavaScript applications available on GitHub. We found that almost 70% of the JavaScript systems we study make some usage of classes. We also performed a field study with the main developers of 60 popular JavaScript systems in order to validate our findings. The overall results range from 97% to 100% for precision, from 70% to 89% for recall, and from 82% to 94% for F-score.
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Submitted on : Monday, February 20, 2017 - 1:13:48 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, November 22, 2022 - 2:26:16 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Sunday, May 21, 2017 - 1:54:45 PM


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Leonardo Humberto Silva, Marco Tulio Valente, Alexandre Bergel, Nicolas Anquetil, Anne Etien. Identifying Classes in Legacy JavaScript Code. Journal of Software: Evolution and Process, 2017, ⟨10.1002/smr.1864⟩. ⟨hal-01471905⟩



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