I ♥ Hacker News

I Heart HN

Our short paper, I ♥ Hacker News: Expanding Qualitative Research Findings by Analyzing Social News Websites, has been accepted to the joint meeting of the European Software Engineering Conference and the ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (ESEC/FSE 2015, New Ideas). ESEC/FSE is hosted this year in Bergamo, Italy.

The abstract of the paper follows:

Grounded theory is an important research method in empirical software engineering, but it is also time consuming, tedious, and complex. This makes it difficult for researchers to assess if threats, such as missing themes or sample bias, have inadvertently materialized. To better assess such threats, our new idea is that we can automatically extract knowledge from social news websites, such as Hacker News, to easily replicate existing grounded theory research — and then compare the results. We conduct a replication study on static analysis tool adoption using Hacker News. We confirm that even a basic replication and analysis using social news websites can offer additional insights to existing themes in studies, while also identifying new themes. For example, we identified that security was not a theme discovered in the original study on tool adoption. As a long-term vision, we consider techniques from the discipline of knowledge discovery to make this replication process more automatic.

Improving Error Notification Comprehension in IDEs by Supporting Developer Self-Explanations

Explanatory interface mockup, conceptualized in the Eclipse IDE.

My second graduate consortium submission, Improving Error Notification Comprehension in IDEs by Supporting Developer Self-Explanations, has been accepted to the IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC) in Atlanta, Georgia. The abstract of the paper follows:

Despite the advanced static analysis techniques available to compilers, error notifications as presented by modern IDEs remain perplexing for developers to resolve. My thesis postulates that tools fail to adequately support self-explanation, a core metacognitive process necessary to comprehend notifications. The contribution of my work will bridge the gap between the presentation of tools and interpretation by developers by enabling IDEs to present the information they compute in a way that supports developer self-explanation.

You can compare this submission with my prior VL/HCC Graduate Consortium.

Fuse: A Reproducible, Extendable, Internet-scale Corpus of Spreadsheets

Fuse Distribution

Our paper, Fuse: A Reproducible, Extendable, Internet-scale Corpus of Spreadsheets, has been accepted to the 12th Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories.

Fuse is obtained by filtering through 1.9 petabytes of raw data from Common Crawl, using Amazon Web Services. See our Fuse Spreadsheet Corpus project page for details on obtaining the spreadsheets and using the spreadsheet metadata.

The abstract of the paper follows:

Spreadsheets are perhaps the most ubiquitous form of end-user programming software. This paper describes a corpus, called Fuse, containing 2,127,284 URLs that return spreadsheets (and their HTTP server responses), and 249,376 unique spreadsheets, contained within a public web archive of over 26.83 billion pages. Obtained using nearly 60,000 hours of computation, the resulting corpus exhibits several useful properties over prior spreadsheet corpora, including reproducibility and extendability. Our corpus is unencumbered by any license agreements, available to all, and intended for wide usage by end-user software engineering researchers. In this paper, we detail the data and the spreadsheet extraction process, describe the data schema, and discuss the trade-offs of Fuse with other corpora.

Microsoft Research Internship

Microsoft Research

I’m happy to announce that I’ve accepted an offer to intern at Microsoft Research this summer, from June 1 through August 21, in Redmond, Washington. I’ll be working under the direction of Rob DeLine, Principal Researcher and Group Manager of Human Interactions in Programming (HIP).

Human Interactions in Programming HIP works at the intersection of HCI, CSCW, and Software Engineering. The group uses a human-centered approach to develop tools to support software engineers and teams.

Can Social Screencasting Help Developers Learn New Tools?

Screencasting Tool Usages Our short paper, Can Social Screencasting Help Developers Learn New Tools?, has been accepted to the 8th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering (CHASE 2015). The workshop is colocated with ICSE, and will be hosted in Florence, Italy.

The lead author of the paper is Kubick Lubick. The abstract of the paper follows:

An effective way to learn about software development tools is by directly observing peers’ workflows. However, these tool knowledge transfer events happen infrequently because developers must be both colocated and available. We explore an online social screencasting system that removes the dependencies of colocation and availability while maintaining the beneficial tool knowledge transfer of peer observation. Our results from a formative study indicate these online observations happen more frequently than in-person observations, but their effects are only temporary. We conclude that while peer observation facilitates online knowledge transfer, it is not the only component — other social factors may be involved.

Commit Bubbles

Our paper, Commit Bubbles, has been accepted to ICSE 2015: New Ideas and Emerging Results.

Commit Bubbles Interface

The abstract of the paper follows:

Developers who use version control are expected to produce systematic commit histories that show well-defined steps with logical forward progress. Existing version control tools assume that developers also write code systematically. Unfortunately, the process by which developers write source code is often evolutionary, or as-needed, rather than systematic. Our contribution is a fragment-oriented concept called Commit Bubbles that will allow developers to construct systematic commit histories that adhere to version control best practices with less cognitive effort, and in a way that integrates with their as-needed coding workflows.

In other words, Commit Bubbles aims to alleviate the “tangled commit” and “non-descriptive commit message” dilemmas that developers routinely encounter when constructing version control commit histories:

Git Commit (xkcd)

Hadoop 2.6.0 Windows 64-bit Binaries


The official release of Apache Hadoop 2.6.0 does not include the required binaries (e.g., winutils.exe) necessary to run hadoop. In order to use Hadoop on Windows, it must be compiled from source. This takes a bit of effort, so I’ve provided a pre-compiled, unofficial distribution below:

I compiled the source using:

Then, using the Windows SDK 7.1 Command Prompt or Visual Studio Command Prompt (2010):

set JAVA_HOME=C:\PROGRA~1\Java\jdk1.7.0_71
set Platform=x64

The build system requires that you use the 8.3 short filename for JAVA_HOME (no spaces!). The environment variables (Platform) are also case sensitive. Finally:

mvn package -Pdist -DskipTests -Dtar

The binaries will be available in hadoop-dist/target.