Configuration smells in continuous delivery pipelines: A linter and a six-month study on GitLab

Carmine Vassallo, Sebastian Proksch, Anna Jancso, Harald C. Gall, Massimiliano Di Penta

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

An effective and efficient application of Continuous Integration (CI) and Delivery (CD) requires software projects to follow certain principles and good practices. Configuring such a CI/CD pipeline is challenging and error-prone. Therefore, automated linters have been proposed to detect errors in the pipeline. While existing linters identify syntactic errors, detect security vulnerabilities or misuse of the features provided by build servers, they do not support developers that want to prevent common misconfigurations of a CD pipeline that potentially violate CD principles ("CD smells"). To this end, we propose CD-Linter, a semantic linter that can automatically identify four different smells in pipeline configuration files. We have evaluated our approach through a large-scale and long-term study that consists of (i) monitoring 145 issues (opened in as many open-source projects) over a period of 6 months, (ii) manually validating the detection precision and recall on a representative sample of issues, and (iii) assessing the magnitude of the observed smells on 5,312 open-source projects on GitLab. Our results show that CD smells are accepted and fixed by most of the developers and our linter achieves a precision of 87% and a recall of 94%. Those smells can be frequently observed in the wild, as 31% of projects with long configurations are affected by at least one smell.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationESEC/FSE 2020 - Proceedings of the 28th ACM Joint Meeting European Software Engineering Conference and Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering
EditorsPrem Devanbu, Myra Cohen, Thomas Zimmermann
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Pages327-337
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781450370431
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event28th ACM Joint Meeting European Software Engineering Conference and Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering, ESEC/FSE 2020 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: 8 Nov 202013 Nov 2020

Publication series

NameESEC/FSE 2020 - Proceedings of the 28th ACM Joint Meeting European Software Engineering Conference and Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering

Conference

Conference28th ACM Joint Meeting European Software Engineering Conference and Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering, ESEC/FSE 2020
CountryUnited States
CityVirtual, Online
Period8/11/2013/11/20

Keywords

  • Anti-pattern
  • Configuration
  • Continuous Delivery
  • Continuous Integration
  • DevOps
  • Linter

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