PPIG 2022 - 33rd Annual Workshop
Visual Cues in Compiler Conversations
Alan T. McCabe, Emma Söderberg, Luke Church, Peng Kuang
Abstract: When people are conversing, a key non-verbal aspect of communication is the direction in which the participants are looking, as this may convey where each person’s attention is focused. In a programming context, for instance an integrated development environment (IDE), the interaction design frequently directs the programmer’s gaze towards specific locations on-screen. For example, syntax highlighting and error messaging may be used to draw attention towards problematic sections of code. However, error messages frequently direct the user towards the compiler’s point of discovery as opposed to the actual source of an error. Previously we have applied a conversational lens considering the interaction between the programmer and the compiler as a conversation, in this work we refine that into an “attentional lens”. We consider via a prototype and small exploratory user study the difference between where a developer chooses to spend their attention, where the tooling directs it, and how the two might be aligned through the use of visualisation techniques.