Hero: On the Chaos When PATH Meets Modules

24 Feb 2021  ·  Ying Wang, Liang Qiao, Chang Xu, Yepang Liu, Shing-Chi Cheung, Na Meng, Hai Yu, Zhiliang Zhu ·

Ever since its first release in 2009, the Go programming language (Golang) has been well received by software communities. A major reason for its success is the powerful support of library-based development, where a Golang project can be conveniently built on top of other projects by referencing them as libraries. As Golang evolves, it recommends the use of a new library-referencing mode to overcome the limitations of the original one. While these two library modes are incompatible, both are supported by the Golang ecosystem. The heterogeneous use of library-referencing modes across Golang projects has caused numerous dependency management (DM) issues, incurring reference inconsistencies and even build failures. Motivated by the problem, we conducted an empirical study to characterize the DM issues, understand their root causes, and examine their fixing solutions. Based on our findings, we developed \textsc{Hero}, an automated technique to detect DM issues and suggest proper fixing solutions. We applied \textsc{Hero} to 19,000 popular Golang projects. The results showed that \textsc{Hero} achieved a high detection rate of 98.5\% on a DM issue benchmark and found 2,422 new DM issues in 2,356 popular Golang projects. We reported 280 issues, among which 181 (64.6\%) issues have been confirmed, and 160 of them (88.4\%) have been fixed or are under fixing. Almost all the fixes have adopted our fixing suggestions.

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