G. Venolia, R. DeLine, and T. LaToza. Software development at microsoft observed: It’s about people … working together. Technical Report MSR-TR-2005-140, Microsoft Corporation, Microsoft Research, Seattle, USA, 2005. [pdf]
This technical report describes the results of a survey with developers in different business division at Microsoft. One of the biggest issues that emerges from the analysis is the construction and maintenance of a shared representation of the code structure and workings.
According to the authors this was achieved mainly through social networking and personal effort. Additionaly, it was often the case that a business unit elected a code historian, a person that for expertise or time of presence in the group knew more of the others the story of each component of the code.
One of the interesting closing questions of the paper is: how can we support the externalization of a mental representation of the code?