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Searching for Build Debt: Experiences Managing Technical Debt at Google

J. David Morgenthaler
Misha Gridnev
Proceedings of the Third International Workshop on Managing Technical Debt, IEEE (2012), pp. 1-6


With a large and rapidly changing codebase, Google software engineers are constantly paying interest on various forms of technical debt. Google engineers also make efforts to pay down that debt, whether through special Fixit days, or via dedicated teams, variously known as janitors, cultivators, or demolition experts. We describe several related efforts to measure and pay down technical debt found in Google's BUILD files and associated dead code. We address debt found in dependency specifications, unbuildable targets, and unnecessary command line flags. These efforts often expose other forms of technical debt that must first be managed.

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