Software Engineers are People Too: Applying Human Centered Approaches to Improve Software Development
Software engineers might think that human-computer interaction (HCI) is all about improving the interfaces for their target users through user studies. However, software engineers are people too, and they use a wide variety of technologies, from programming languages to search engines to integrated development environments (IDEs). And the field of HCI has developed a wide variety of human-centered methods, beyond lab user studies, which have been proven effective for answering many different kinds of questions. In this talk, I will use examples from my own research to show how HCI methods can be successfully used to improve the technologies used in the software development process. For example, "Contextual Inquiry" (CI) is a field study method that identifies actual issues encountered during work, which can guide research and development of tools that will address real problems. We have used CIs to identify nearly 100 different questions that developers report they find difficult to answer, which inspired novel tools for reverse-engineering unfamiliar code and for debugging. We used the HCI techniques of Paper Prototyping and Iterative Usability Evaluations to improve our programming tools. Through the techniques of Formal User Studies, we have validated our designs, and quantified the potential improvements. Current work is directed at improving the usability of APIs, using user-centered methods to create a more secure Blockchain programming language, addressing the needs of data analysts who do exploratory programming, helping programmers organize information found on the web, and helping end-user programmers augment what intelligent agents can do on smartphones.
Brad A. Myers is a Professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He was chosen to receive the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement Award in Research in 2017, for outstanding fundamental and influential research contributions to the study of human-computer interaction. He is an IEEE Fellow, ACM Fellow, member of the CHI Academy, and winner of 12 Best Paper type awards and 5 Most Influential Paper Awards. He is the author or editor of over 500 publications, including the books "Creating User Interfaces by Demonstration" and "Languages for Developing User Interfaces," and he has been on the editorial board of six journals. He has been a consultant on user interface design and implementation to over 85 companies, and regularly teaches courses on user interface design and software. Myers received a PhD in computer science at the University of Toronto where he developed the Peridot user interface tool. He received the MS and BSc degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during which time he was a research intern at Xerox PARC. From 1980 until 1983, he worked at PERQ Systems Corporation. His research interests include user interfaces, programming environments, programming language design, end-user software engineering (EUSE), API usability, developer experience (DevX or DX), interaction techniques, programming by example, handheld computers, and visual programming. He belongs to ACM, SIGCHI, IEEE, and the IEEE Computer Society.
Host: Professor Jeff Huang