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A Conversation with Steve Bourne, Eric Allman, and Bryan Cantrill: In part two of their discussion, our editorial board members consider XP and Agile.

September 1, 2008

Topic: Development

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Daniil Tiganov, Lisa Nguyen Quang Do, Karim Ali - Designing UIs for Static Analysis Tools
Static-analysis tools suffer from usability issues such as a high rate of false positives, lack of responsiveness, and unclear warning descriptions and classifications. Here, we explore the effect of applying user-centered approach and design guidelines to SWAN, a security-focused static-analysis tool for the Swift programming language. SWAN is an interesting case study for exploring static-analysis tool usability because of its large target audience, its potential to integrate easily into developers' workflows, and its independence from existing analysis platforms.


Ayman Nadeem - Human-Centered Approach to Static-Analysis-Driven Developer Tools
Complex and opaque systems do not scale easily. A human-centered approach for evolving tools and practices is essential to ensuring that software is scaled safely and securely. Static analysis can unveil information about program behavior, but the goal of deriving this information should not be to accumulate hairsplitting detail. HCI can help direct static-analysis techniques into developer-facing systems that structure information and embody relationships in representations that closely mirror a programmer's thought. The survival of great software depends on programming languages that support, rather than inhibit, communicating, reasoning, and abstract thinking.


Timothy Clem, Patrick Thomson - Static Analysis at GitHub
The Semantic Code team at GitHub builds and operates a suite of technologies that power symbolic code navigation on github.com. We learned that scale is about adoption, user behavior, incremental improvement, and utility. Static analysis in particular is difficult to scale with respect to human behavior; we often think of complex analysis tools working to find potentially problematic patterns in code and then trying to convince the humans to fix them.


Patrick Thomson - Static Analysis: An Introduction
Modern static-analysis tools provide powerful and specific insights into codebases. The Linux kernel team, for example, developed Coccinelle, a powerful tool for searching, analyzing, and rewriting C source code; because the Linux kernel contains more than 27 million lines of code, a static-analysis tool is essential both for finding bugs and for making automated changes across its many libraries and modules. Another tool targeted at the C family of languages is Clang scan-build, which comes with many useful analyses and provides an API for programmers to write their own analyses. Like so many things in computer science, the utility of static analysis is self-referential: To write reliable programs, we must also write programs for our programs.


In the July/August 2008 issue of ACM Queue we published part one of a two-part discussion about the practice of software engineering. The goal was to gain some perspective on the tools, techniques, and methodologies that software engineers use in their daily lives. Three members of Queue’s editorial advisory board participated: Steve Bourne, Eric Allman, and Bryan Cantrill, each of whom has made significant and lasting real-world contributions to the field (for more information on each of the participants, see part one). In part two we rejoin their conversation as they discuss XP (Extreme Programming) and Agile.



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Dave Bone | Fri, 05 Dec 2008 22:22:40 UTC

Enjoyed the banter on programming and here's mine: What's your take on Literate programming? My mumbles are: Programming demands multi-media to reclue u into your code thoughts that seems to have an alzeheimer's effect on the author. How many time's has your own code revisits demanded comprehensive rebuild-ups? Imagine audio accompanying your code snippets along with other visuals...;}


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