Generating comments in code – can a machine make our code more readable?

Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay 

Our research team has been working with code comments for a while now. We have done analyses of source code comments and the code that is commented. We have also worked with the needs for code comments.

The results showed that AI support for code reviewing process is very much needed. However, it has also shown that the current tools are not good enough yet. One of the tools is DeepCode.ai, which analyzes code repository and finds problems in the code. It is a great tool, but it has been trained on large data sets from open source projects, which makes it tricky to use on proprietary software. It does not know how to capture the project specific characteristics.

I’ve recently cam across this article (https://link-springer-com.ezproxy.ub.gu.se/content/pdf/10.1007/s10664-019-09730-9.pdf) which is about generating code comments. It can generate code comments (not review comments) for the Java programming language. It “understands” what the code does and generates a natural language description of the code. The tool is based on the latest work from the NLP domain and has been trained on over 44 million statements, which is quite a number😊

The tool is not perfect (yet), but shows improvement over existing approaches and is definitely opening up new alleys of using NLP in Software Engineering.

Let’s stay tuned, more will come!