2010 Poster Sessions : Example-Centric Programming: Integrating Web Search into the Development Environment

Student Name : Joel Brandt
Advisor : Scott Klemmer
Research Areas: Graphics/HCI
The ready availability of online source-code examples has fundamentally changed programming practices. However, current search tools are not designed to assist with programming tasks and are wholly separate from editing tools. We propose that embedding a task-specific search engine in the development environment can significantly reduce the cost of finding information and thus enable programmers to write better code more easily.

This poster presents Blueprint, a Web search interface integrated into the Adobe Flex Builder development environment that helps users locate example code. Blueprint automatically augments queries with code context, presents a code-centric view of search results, embeds the search experience into the editor, and retains a link between copied code and its source. A comparative laboratory study found that Blueprint enables participants to write significantly better code and find example code significantly faster than with a standard Web browser. Analysis of three months of usage logs with 2,024 users suggests that task-specific search interfaces can significantly change how and when people search the Web.

Joel Brandt is a PhD Candidate in the Stanford Human-Computer Interaction Group, anticipating graduation in Summer 2010. Through a mixture of empirical work and systems building, he studies the task of programming. His thesis work explores the role that information resources play during software development. Tools built as part of this research are now used by thousands of programmers on a daily basis. He received a BS with majors in Computer Science and Mathematics and an MS in Computer Science from Washington University in St. Louis. Joel is currently advised by Professor Scott Klemmer.