PPIG 2015 - 26th Annual Workshop
The impact of Syntax Highlighting in Sonic Pi
Giovanna Maria Dimitri
Abstract: We present an empirical study investigating the role of syntax highlighting in Sonic Pi, considering both program writing and program debugging tasks. Data were collected from 10 participants, who were asked to execute writing and debugging tasks, while their screens were recorded. We observed how syntax highlighting significantly improves task completion time in the case of writing as well as of debugging tasks. In particular we investigated debugging of a common mistake in the Sonic Pi environment, which we called colon-space feature because of the underlying Ruby syntax. Moreover we observed a correlation between syntax mistakes with programming experience and musical experience. If the task is highlighted the task completion time decreases with the increasing of programming experience, while this decreasing trend is not so significant in the case of an increasing musical experience.