The widespread adoption of mobile devices, coupled with the ease of developing mobile-based applications (apps) has created a lucrative and competitive environment for app developers. Solely focusing on app functionality and time-to-market is not enough for developers to ensure the success of their app. Quality attributes exhibited by the app must also be a key focus point; not just at the onset of app development, but throughout its lifetime.

The impact analysis of bad programming practices, or code smells, in production code has been the focus of numerous studies in software maintenance. Similar to production code, unit tests are also susceptible to bad programming practices which can have a negative impact not only on the quality of the software system but also on maintenance activities. With the present corpus of studies on test smells primarily on traditional applications, there is a need to fill the void in understanding the deviation of testing guidelines in the mobile environment. Furthermore, there is a need to understand the degree to which test smells are prevalent in mobile apps and the impact of such smells on app maintenance. Hence, the purpose of this research is to: (1) extend the existing set of bad test-code practices by introducing new test smells, (2) provide the software engineering community with an open-source test smell detection tool, and (3) perform a large-scale empirical study on test smell occurrence, distribution, and impact on the maintenance of open-source Android apps.

Through multiple experiments, our findings indicate that most Android apps lack an automated verification of their testing mechanisms. As for the apps with existing test suites, they exhibit test smells early on in their lifetime with varying degrees of co-occurrences with different smell types. Our exploration of the relationship between test smells and technical debt proves that test smells are a strong measurement of technical debt. Furthermore, we observed positive correlations between specific smell types and highly changed/buggy test files. Hence, this research demonstrates that test smells can be used as indicators for necessary preventive software maintenance for test suites.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Android (Electronic resource); Debugging in computer science; Computer software--Reliability; Mobile apps--Testing

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Software Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Software Engineering (GCCIS)


Mohamed Wiem Mkaouer

Advisor/Committee Member

Christian Newman

Advisor/Committee Member

Mehdi Mirakhorli


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes