Doctoral thesis

Object-focused environments revisited


129 p

Thèse de doctorat: Università della Svizzera italiana, 2013

English In the object oriented programming (OOP) paradigm, programs are composed solely of objects. The computational model is based on a world of collaborating objects, where they send each other messages to carry out tasks. The programs are crafted with the aid of tools, which enable to describe their components and behavior in a human readable form. With the advent of the graphical user interface came the pinnacle tool for software development, the integrated development environment (IDE). IDEs include numerous tools to effectively construct, debug, and test the programs. The tools work on a static textual representation of the program –the source code– which conceptually conflicts with the dynamic nature of the computational model of OOP. The use of a tool- based interface also produces technical problems, which relate to navigating the system, preserving the task context, and manipulating finer grained entities than the coarse grained perspective offered by the tools. In this thesis we investigate an alternative interface for OOP environments, which is based solely on direct manipulation of objects. It alleviates the conceptual and technical problems of tool-based IDEs, by giving prominence to the objects themselves within the interface. We propose an Object-focused environment, composed of a 2D surface hosting behaviorally complete graphical representations of the objects. We provide prototype implementations named Gaucho and Ronda, which illustrate the application of our approach to a broad range of tasks, such as modeling, programming, program comprehension, and collaborative software engineering. To validate our thesis, we conducted a summative evaluation, instrumented as a controlled experiment where we compared Gaucho with a traditional IDE, finding that it is indeed a viable alternative to the current state of the art.
  • English
Computer science and technology
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