Exception handling bug hazards in Android: Results from a mining study and an exploratory survey

Roberta Coelho*, Lucas Almeida, Georgios Gousios, Arie van Deursen, Christoph Treude

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
391 Downloads (Pure)


Adequate handling of exceptions has proven difficult for many software engineers. Mobile app developers in particular, have to cope with compatibility, middleware, memory constraints, and battery restrictions. The goal of this paper is to obtain a thorough understanding of common exception handling bug hazards that app developers face. To that end, we first provide a detailed empirical study of over 6,000 Java exception stack traces we extracted from over 600 open source Android projects. Key insights from this study include common causes for system crashes, and common chains of wrappings between checked and unchecked exceptions. Furthermore, we provide a survey with 71 developers involved in at least one of the projects analyzed. The results corroborate the stack trace findings, and indicate that developers are unaware of frequently occurring undocumented exception handling behavior. Overall, the findings of our study call for tool support to help developers understand their own and third party exception handling and wrapping logic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1264–1304
Number of pages41
JournalEmpirical Software Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Android development
  • Exception handling
  • Exploratory survey
  • Repository mining


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