Like, dislike, or just do it? How developers approach software development tasks

Zainab Masood, Rashina Hoda, Kelly Blincoe, Daniela Damian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Software developers work on various tasks and activities that contribute towards creating and maintaining software applications, frameworks, or other software components. These include technical (e.g., writing code and fixing bugs) and non-technical activities (e.g., communicating within or outside teams to understand, clarify, and resolve issues) as part of their day-to-day responsibilities. Interestingly, there is an aspect of desirability associated with these tasks and activities. Objective: However, not all of these tasks are desirable to developers, and yet they still need to be done. This study explores desirability and undesirability of developers for software development tasks. Method: Based on semi-structured interviews from 32 software developers and applying a grounded theory research approach, the study investigates what tasks are desirable and undesirable for developers, what makes tasks desirable and undesirable for them, what are the perceived consequences of working on these tasks, and how do they deal with such tasks. Results: We identified a set of underlying factors that make tasks (un)desirable for developers, categorised as personal, social, organisational, technical, and operational factors. We also found that working on desirable tasks has positive consequences while working on undesirable tasks has negative consequences. We reported different standard, assisted, and mitigation strategies that aid software practitioners manage developers’ likes and dislikes. Conclusion: Understanding these likes and dislikes, contributing factors, and strategies can help the managers and teams ensure balanced work distribution, developers’ happiness, and productivity, ultimately increasing the value developers add to software products.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106963
Number of pages12
JournalInformation and Software Technology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Contributing factors
  • Desirability
  • Software tasks
  • Undesirability

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