Exploring the evolution of software practices

Yvonne Dittrich, Christian Bo Michelsen, Paolo Tell, Pernille Lous, Allan Ebdrup

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


When software products and services are developed and maintained over longer time, software engineering practices tend to drift away from both structured and agile methods. Nonetheless, in many cases the evolving practices are far from ad hoc or chaotic. How are the teams involved able to coordinate their joint development?This article reports on an ethnographic study of a small team at a successful provider of software as a service. What struck us was the very explicit way in which the team adopted and adapted their practices to fit the needs of the evolving development. The discussion relates the findings to the concepts of social practices and methods in software engineering, and explores the differences between degraded behavior and the coordinated evolution of development practices. The analysis helps to better understand how software engineering practices evolve, and thus provides a starting point for rethinking software engineering methods and their relation to software engineering practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationESEC/FSE '20: 28th ACM Joint European Software Engineering Conference and Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering, Virtual Event, USA, November 8-13, 2020
EditorsPrem Devanbu, Myra B. Cohen, Thomas Zimmermann
Number of pages12
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Software engineering practices
  • Agile methods
  • Software as a service
  • Ethnographic study
  • Coordinated development


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