How Are Developers Using Eclipse?

An article from researchers at UBC in the latest issue of IEEE Software analyzes how developers actually use Eclipse. The top five views from the standard distribution are Package Explorer, Console, Search, Problems, and Variables; the Declaration view was never used by their test subjects, even though it's displayed by default for Java development. (This is actually better than you'd expect, given studies done by the Standish Group showing that 40% or more of the features in large programs are never used.) We'd like to do studies like this with DrProject, to find out which pieces students actually use, and which they ignore. Tagging, for example: will people who use Flickr and the like take an extra few seconds to tag tickets and wiki pages, or will they not bother? And if they do tag, will it correlate with better marks? We couldn't find any patterns in CVS usage that correlated when we looked two years ago, which surprised us; we eventually blamed that on the fact that students were climbing the learning curve, but we really don't know. Coincidentally, I just finished another paper by Greg Watson and Nathan DeBardeleben, both of Los Alamos National Laboratory, on developing scientific applications using Eclipse. This one appeared in Computing in Science and Engineering; it's an excellent study of how to customize tools to respond to a particular community's needs. I've been swapping mail with the authors for the last few days, trying to get some more insight into why scientific programmers are often resistant to adopting new tools and processes; if we reach any conclusions, I'll post 'em here ;-).
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