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Design implications for task-specific search utilities for retrieval and re-engineering of code

Iqbal, Rahat and Grzywaczewski, Adam and Halloran, John and Doctor, Faiyaz and Iqbal, Kashif (2017) 'Design implications for task-specific search utilities for retrieval and re-engineering of code.' Enterprise Information Systems, 11 (5). pp. 738-757. ISSN 1751-7575

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The importance of information retrieval systems is unquestionable in the modern society and both individuals as well as enterprises recognise the benefits of being able to find information effectively. Current code-focused information retrieval systems such as Google Code Search, Codeplex or Koders produce results based on specific keywords. However, these systems do not take into account developers’ context such as development language, technology framework, goal of the project, project complexity and developer’s domain expertise. They also impose additional cognitive burden on users in switching between different interfaces and clicking through to find the relevant code. Hence, they are not used by software developers. In this paper, we discuss how software engineers interact with information and general-purpose information retrieval systems (e.g. Google, Yahoo!) and investigate to what extent domain-specific search and recommendation utilities can be developed in order to support their work-related activities. In order to investigate this, we conducted a user study and found that software engineers followed many identifiable and repeatable work tasks and behaviours. These behaviours can be used to develop implicit relevance feedback-based systems based on the observed retention actions. Moreover, we discuss the implications for the development of task-specific search and collaborative recommendation utilities embedded with the Google standard search engine and Microsoft IntelliSense for retrieval and re-engineering of code. Based on implicit relevance feedback, we have implemented a prototype of the proposed collaborative recommendation system, which was evaluated in a controlled environment simulating the real-world situation of professional software engineers. The evaluation has achieved promising initial results on the precision and recall performance of the system.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Personalised information retrieval, opportunistic software development, development by example, retention actions, copy and paste, pseudo-relevance, software development, information-seeking behaviour, implicit relevance feedback
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2018 15:48
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2022 01:21

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