Diffusion of Software Features: An Exploratory Study

Ferdian Thung, Singapore Management University
David LO, Singapore Management University
Lingxiao JIANG, Singapore Management University


New features are frequently proposed in many software libraries. These features include new methods, classes, packages, etc. These features are utilized in many open source and commercial software systems. Some of these features are adopted very quickly, while others take a long time to be adopted. Each feature takes much resource to develop, test, and document. Library developers and managers need to decide what feature to prioritize and what to develop next. As a first step to aid these stakeholders, we perform an exploratory study on the diffusion or rate of adoption of features in Java Development Kit (JDK) library. Our empirical study proposes such questions as how many new features are adopted by client applications; how long it takes for a new feature to spread to various software products; what features are diffused quickly; and what features are diffused widely. We perform an exploratory study with new features in Java Development Kit (JDK, from version 1.3 to 1.6) and provide empirical findings to answer the above research questions.