Institute for Software Research
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Question about Object Structure
during Coding Activities

Marwan Abi-Antoun*, Nariman Ammar*, Thomas LaToza

January 2010

Keywords: Object diagram, class diagram, developer questions, exploratory study

Recent tools have been designed to help developers understand the potential runtime structure of objects in a system at compile time. Such tools let developers interactively explore diagrams of object structure. But do developers ask questions about object structure? If so, when?

We conducted a small pilot study of developers working on coding tasks designed to require thinking about relationships between objects. Developers did indeed ask a number of questions about various types of relationships such as containment, ownership, object identities and aliasing. Finally, some of our results revealed usability challenges tools should address to more effectively answer these questions.

21 pages

*Department of Computer Science, Wayne State University

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