Notes on “Eliciting design requirements for maintenance-oriented IDEs: a detailed study of corrective and perfective maintenance tasks”

June 24, 2009

Eliciting design requirements for maintenance-oriented IDEs: a detailed study of corrective and perfective maintenance tasks: Ko, A.J. and Aung, H.H. and Myers, B.A.

A study of expert Java programmers performing maintenance tasks using Eclipse.

Maintenance interleaves three activities: Collecting code fragments (building a working set), navigating the dependencies of the fragments, actually editing code.

Time breakdown observation: 35% navigation, 46% inspecting irrelevant code. 88% of hypotheses are wrong. Programmers copied-and-pasted code. In 10% of the copies, there was a forgotten necessary change that took around up to 18 minutes, average 3 minutes to debug. A further 12% of the copies missed a piece, costing average 4 minutes to debug.

Bigger screens/workspaces might help (though the experimental workspace was unusually tiny: 1024×768)

Other IDE proposals:

  • Support creating a working set of code fragments
  • Support saving and restoring working sets
  • Automatically add dependencies when a fragment is added
  • When pasting code, mark unchanged references as suspect
  • When pasting code, check if any dependencies were missed
  • Integrate slicing for program output
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