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Leveraging variation management to enhance end users' programming experience

Sandeep Kaur Kuttal, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


End users with little formal programming background are creating software in many different forms, including spreadsheets, web macros, mobile applications and web mashups. End-user programming environments allows end users to create programs, but end users still face various programming barriers due to lack of software engineering support in these environments. One source of support known to be beneficial for professional developers with their programming ventures is variation management. Variation management deals with managing program variants over time and space. We believe that by leveraging variation management we can help end users with programming tasks, including program exploration, program understanding, verification and debugging. This research intends to provide novel ways of integrating variation management into the existing work flow of end users and help them create programs more effectively and efficiently. To leverage the benefits of variation management, we added support for versioning to a web mashup environment. The analysis of two user studies revealed that the versioning support helped study participants by reducing learning barriers, helping them reuse parts of pipes, and improving their debugging performance. The results of our studies underscored the need for debugging support in mashup programming environments. This motivated us to classify the faults found in mashup environments and create automatic fault detection mechanisms for localizing faults. We also added support for feedback to help mashup programmers locate and fix faults efficiently and effectively. Our study shows that our debugging support helped end users effectively and efficiently locate and fix faults. Further, analysis of results from an Information Foraging Theory (IFT) perspective helped us better understand the foraging behavior of end users. Based on our analysis, we developed a model and offered recommendations for designers and practitioners. To leverage the full benefits of variation management and explore the generalizability of our approaches, we added variation over space support to an Android mobile application development environment. Analysis of our study results revealed that our support helps end users with their reuse and exploration tasks. The study also helped uncover new design requirements for variation management support systems.

Subject Area

Computer Engineering|Computer science

Recommended Citation

Kuttal, Sandeep Kaur, "Leveraging variation management to enhance end users' programming experience" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3632730.