A graphical user interface for presenting integrated development environment command recommendations: Design, evaluation, and implementation
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Context: A set of algorithms exist to generate integrated development environment (IDE) command recommendations. The recommendations are aimed at improving software developer’s interaction with an IDE. Even though the interface is a critical element of every recommender system, we are not aware of any existing graphical user interface to present such recommendations. Objective: This paper describes and evaluates a novel design of a graphical user interface to recommend commands within an IDE. The interface contains a description of the suggested command, an explanation of why the command is recommended, and a command usage example. Method: The proposed design is based on the analysis of guidelines identified in the literature. Its acceptance and usability were evaluated through a user study with 36 software developers and semi-structured interviews with 11 software developers. Results: The results indicate that the suggested interface is well accepted, but it can be further improved. Through the interviews and the implementation of the interface, we identified a series of requirements important for the development of future IDE command recommender systems. Conclusions: This paper shows that a convenient graphical user interface is critical to achieve high acceptance of IDE command recommendations. Our work also illustrates steps useful for undertaking user studies related to IDE command recommendations in a practical setting without human intervention. A future step is to evaluate the interface within the business environment, where recommendations are generated and presented in an IDE used by practicing software developers as part of their normal work- day.