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Automatic juxtaposition of source files Davis, Samuel

Abstract

Previous research has found that programmers spend a significant fraction of their time navigating between different source code locations and that much of that time is spent returning to previously viewed code. Other work has identified the ability to juxtapose arbitrary pieces of code as cognitively important. However, modern IDEs have inherited a user interface design in which, usually, only one source file is displayed at a time, with the result that users must switch back and forth from one file to another. Taking advantage of the increasing availability of large displays, we propose a new interaction paradigm in which an IDE presents parts of multiple source files side by side, using the Mylyn degree-of-interest function to dynamically allocate screen space to them on the basis of degree-of-interest to the current development task. We demonstrate the feasibility of this paradigm with a prototype implementation built on the Eclipse IDE and note that it was used by the author over a period of months in the development of the prototype itself. Additionally, we present two case studies which quantify the potential reduction in navigation and demonstrate the simplicity of the approach and its ability to capture complete concerns on screen. These case studies suggest that the approach has the potential to reduce the time that programmers spend navigating by as much as 50%.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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