UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Automatic identification and description of software developers tasks Satterfield, Christopher


A software developer works on many tasks per day, frequently switching back and forth between their tasks. This constant churn of tasks makes it difficult for a developer to know the specifics of what tasks they worked on, and when they worked on them. Consequently, activities such as task resumption, planning, retrospection,and reporting become complicated. To help a developer determine which tasks they worked on and when these tasks were performed, we introduce two novel approaches. First, an approach that captures the contents of a developer’s active window at regular intervals to create vector and visual representations of the work in a particular time interval. Second, an approach that automatically detects the times at which developers switch tasks, as well as coarse grained information about the type of the task. To evaluate the first approach, we created a data set with multiple developers working on the same set of six information seeking tasks. To evaluate the second approach, we conducted two field studies, collecting data from a total of 25 professional developers. Our analyses show that our approaches enable: 1) segments of a developer’s work to be automatically associated with a task from a known set of tasks with average accuracy of 70.6%, 2) a visual representation of a segment of work performed such that a developer can recognize the task with average accuracy of 67.9%, 3) the boundaries of a developer’s task to be detected with an accuracy as high as 84%, and 4) the coarse grained type of a task that a developer works on to be detected with 61% accuracy.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International