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A piece of writing on a single theme.

Software Factory - a report on a project to advance research and education in software development

By Fabian Fagerholm
fabian.fagerholm (at) helsinki.fi
Department of Computer Science
University of Helsinki
www.cs.helsinki.fi
www.softwarefactory.cc

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Slipping out of software development

By Chris Douce

I haven't been working in the field of software development for a number of years now. During this time, all the coding I've done has been some PHP development on a research project and migrating five or six small C++ programs to Java. When I say small, I mean programs ranging between one hundred and five hundred lines long, nothing substantial. The programs didn't do much either: they were designed to exercise different OO features and might be used as experimental materials for a small project I'm involved with.

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Inform 7: a model for pedagogical programming?

by T R G Green
University of Leeds, UK

I was recently intrigued and inspired by Inform 7, a new programming language/environment, originating entirely outside the PPIG and human-centered computing communities but dominated by the same ideals of ease of use in every possible aspect. I have not seen such thoroughgoing dedication since the days when Eisenstadt and Lewis (1992) analysed every single user error ever made in their pedagogical language SOLO. What can we learn from it? Can we adopt similar techniques for other purposes?

Finding the difficult path to least resistance

By Chris Douce

One of the programming languages and systems that I have been threatening (and hoping) to use in anger for the last couple of years is PHP. I have heard a lot about its flexibility, expressiveness and the fact that it powers an increasing number of substantial projects, such as Wikipedia, content management systems like Drupal and e-learning management systems like Moodle and ATutor.

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Search Slices: Measuring the Weight of Programming Resources

by Chris Douce

After quite a few months without programming, I found it necessary to perform a stint of debugging. This was not source code debugging, but installation debugging. I needed to get a software development framework up and running, including a web server and database. It wasn't too long before I was again happily fiddling with configuration files and faced with the need to look at system logs and error files to try to understand more about why my setup was not doing the things that I expected it to.

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Biting a Bullet

by Chris Douce

There are two new programming languages battling for attention on my technology horizon. These languages are Ruby and Python and both are sometimes mentioned in the same breath. You seem to be able to do similar stuff with these newer languages than you can with older ones: PHP for web pages and my old favouite, Perl for 'glue code' and 'write once' utility scripts.

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The Emotional Programmer

by Chris Douce

Occasionally, if I am asked the essential question of 'why' I wrote a collection of functions a a particular I may not immediately have an answer. I have an instinct to reply, 'because it feels as if this the best approach', especially if some time has passed between discovering a design and the request for its justification.

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Linguistics and Programming Languages

By Martin Sustrick

It is quite common to use computers to analyse natural languages. Although we are not yet able to accomplish the task plausibly, the problem is being solved with the hope that one day we will be able to communicate with computers in natural language.

Other way round, programmers have to speak 'computerish'. We are able to 'speak' C, Pascal, SQL or even machine code. We learn a computer language using the same faculties as learn our own human language, in intuitive manner, without a profound understanding of what is going on in out brain.

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What should we be looking at?

By Chris Douce

Through the discussion list I asked the PPIG community what issues we should be studying. I took the opportunity to ask Ruven Brooks, a long-standing contributor to the psychology of programming community, this question. Many thanks are extended to Ruven Books and Carl Hardeman for their considered replies.

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Interview: Professor Jorma Sajaniemi

By Chris Douce

There is one group of researchers that have been attending PPIG workshops with reassuring regularity.

Hailing from the University of Joensuu, Finland, the Finnish Group have carried out psychology of programming research using a number of different approaches and methods. They have adopted the engineering approach by developing tools to support programmers, have explored the sometimes controversial issue of programmer testing and entered the world of program understanding by carrying out experiments using eye-tracking systems.

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