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It is widely believed that refactoring improves software quality and developer productivity. However, few empirical studies quantitatively assess refactoring benefits or investigate developers' perception towards these benefits. This paper presents a field study of refactoring benefits and challenges at Microsoft through three complementary study methods: a survey, semi-structured interviews with professional software engineers, and quantitative analysis of version history data. The authors' survey finds that the refactoring definition in practice is not confined to a rigorous definition of semantics preserving code transformations and that developers perceive that refactoring involves substantial cost and risks.
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