So what is a developer experience anyway?

Discussion on all things related to the experience that a developer has with development tools and frameworks.

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  • Blog Post: Do you want a sneak peek at some ideas we're working on?

    Then please sign up to participate in a user experience study I'll be running from the Edinburgh office next week. On Tuesday 31st July through to Thursday August 2nd, I'm looking for five JavaScript developers who can come in to the Microsoft office in Edinburgh, Scotland to put some prototypes we're...
  • Blog Post: New features for the next release of Visual Studio

    One of the new features of Visual Studio that Cameron Skinner demonstrated at Tech Ed recently was the provisional tab. This is a feature that I've been working on for a couple of years so I'm delighted to see it in the product. Some of you might remember taking part in a usability study a few months...
  • Blog Post: Usability study in Edinburgh last week

    Just wanted to say a big thank you to the developers who came in to the Edinburgh office last week for a sneak peek at some of our ideas for the next version of Visual Studio. Each of you gave us incredibly insightful and useful feedback and it will be used to improve the product enormously. Thanks!...
  • Blog Post: Blogs are no good

    ...for understanding who you are designing for. I've been involved in too many discussions about a design (either after a usability study or a review or during the design process) when we are discussing something that doesn't work or doesn't feel right. Maybe we ran a usability study and observed...
  • Blog Post: Bricolage, tinkering and gender differences in programming

    There's a great essay at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703989304575503730101860838.html describing how great ideas often don't come from "momentous ideas transcending their surroundings, a gifted mind somehow seeing over the detritus of old ideas and ossified tradition". Instead, many...
  • Blog Post: How can you make a better measuring cup?

    Nobody complains about how measuring cups work. But the OXO measuring cup was designed after careful observation had identified a problem that nobody had really ever noticed before. It's well worth watching this video for more details about the product development process at OXO: http://goodexperience...
  • Blog Post: Making effective use of personas in design

    I've created and worked with a number of different personas during my time in the Visual Studio User Experience team at Microsoft. I've learned a lot about how to use them effectively, and, contrary to what others have recently written about the use of personas, I believe they are still indispensable...
  • Blog Post: Searching and skimming code

    Came across an interesting paper today: http://www.chrisluce.com/doc/icsm2009.pdf It describes a study in which 10 developers were asked to fix two bugs in a software system they had no experience with. The system consisted of 70 thousand lines of code. The paper describes how the participants used...
  • Blog Post: Do developers have culture?

    There are many descriptions of how developers work, think and act. For a long time, we've distinguished between opportunistic, pragmatic and systematic programmers (there is an old and short description of these here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/brada/archive/2003/11/18/50737.aspx ). A more up to date description...
  • Blog Post: Most IDEs offer poor support for many common development tasks

    According to numerous studies ( Thomas Latoza has done many of them) developers spend most of their time either debugging code or determining the implications of a proposed change to code. While today's debuggers have allowed us to be more sophisticated than sprinkling println statements throughout...
  • Blog Post: How easy is it for us to say what we really want?

    If you ever go to your customers and ask them what features they want in the next release of your application, you absolutely must read this post: UX Myth #21 - People can tell you what they want . Even now, after so many research reports, articles and books describing how many companies got things...
  • Blog Post: Scottish developers, we need you!

    If you are a software developer and you live and work in Scotland, and you are interested in helping us out with our user experience research programme please let me know. There are lots of ways you can participate - being a participant in a study, answering a survey, allowing me to come to your office...
  • Blog Post: HOWTO: Run an API usability study

    With the task list in place and participants recruited, it's time to run the study. My experience has been that running an API usability study is really no different from running any other type of study. Here's a description of what I do. The day before the study I make sure that the machines I'll...
  • Blog Post: Ideas for talks at upcoming conferences?

    I was just in a meeting with the Visual Studio UX (user experience) team. Someone brought up the topic of upcoming developer conferences and whether or not folks from the UX team would be attending. Then someone suggested that we could even consider doing a talk (or talks), as well as attend the conferences...
  • Blog Post: Whyline

    Brad Myers from CMU was here today giving a talk which included some details of the Whyline system, a debugger that allows programmers to ask questions about the behavior of their application in order to be able to figure out what the problem is (there's some discussion of the system on Slashdot ). ...
  • Blog Post: VS automation samples

    I've been asked for suggestions for a list of VS automation samples that would help solve tricky tasks that I've observed users working on during usability studies. Just wanted to check if anybody has such a list of samples that they would like us to provide. One example from a recent study that I...
  • Blog Post: This scares me!

    Aleksei Guzev was scared by my last post on readability vs writability. I think what might have scared Aleksei (feel free to correct me if I am wrong Aleksei) is the thought that the results of this study would be used to make a case for adding a Count property to the DataReader class and removing...
  • Blog Post: Psychology of Programming Workshop

    Another paper that caught my attention at the recent Psychology of Programming workshop was presented by Matt Jadud from the University of Kent. Matt's research focuses on understanding how novices learn to program and to develop teaching methodologies that take this understanding into account. In his...
  • Blog Post: Usability and prototypes

    It's been a while since I last posted and the main reason for my silence has been that I've been busy preparing and running a usability study this week which involved the creation of an HTML prototype to mock up the UI of the product we were studying. The study is investigating the user experience...
  • Blog Post: OK/Cancel

    I just got forwarded this link to a pretty amusing and interesting usability site: http://www.ok-cancel.com/index.html
  • Blog Post: Sign up for a usability study

    If you'd like to get the chance to participate in an API usability study and give us your feedback about Avalon, Indigo, WinFS or other APIs, sign up as a usability participant at http://www.microsoft.com/usability/ . We're running studies fairly regularly (for example, next week we are running...
  • Blog Post: Experts and non experts

    I had an interesting conversation with a colleague of mine last week. We were discussing the extent to which full details of a technology or feature should be exposed to end-users. We were discussing this issue in the context of the IDE specifically, and how details should be exposed in the UI, but...
  • Blog Post: Usability at the PDC

    Graeme Mott, a colleague of mine in the Visual Studio Usability group will be at the PDC next week. He's planning a few interesting activities: He'll be walking around the conference with a video camera giving attendees thirty seconds of 'air-time' to provide their feedback to the Visual...
  • Blog Post: Aesthetics, language design and usability

    Here's  an interesting interview with Anders Hejlsberg in which he makes some points about programming language usability. Anders says that " good language design boils down to assembling a team of people who have good taste ." I couldn't agree more. It's absolutely vital to understand...
  • Blog Post: API usability and the cognitive dimensions framework

    Brad Abrams posted a slide deck that I use to talk about the cognitive dimensions framework which we use at Microsoft to evaluate and describe API usability. I thought I would take this space to provide a little more explanation about how we use the framework. The cognitive dimensions framework...
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