Addressing Misconceptions About Code with Always-On Programming Visualizations

A CHI 2014 paper by Tom Lieber et al, abstract:

We present Theseus, an IDE extension that visualizes run-time behavior within a JavaScript code editor. By displaying real-time information about how code actually behaves during execution, Theseus proactively addresses misconceptions by drawing attention to similarities and differences between the programmer's idea of what code does and what it actually does. To understand how programmers would respond to this kind of an always-on visualization, we ran a lab study with graduate students, and interviewed 9 professional programmers who were asked to use Theseus in their day-to-day work. We found that users quickly adopted strategies that are unique to always-on, real-time visualizations, and used the additional information to guide their navigation through their code.

Edit: up to date paper linked in.

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i think we need more of this. i mean, if we can't get our 2d ascii to writher and writhe in such a way that it shows us the runtime behaviour then we gotta look for other solutions to bridging the gap between source code and runtime. makes me wish i'd sucked less when i worked for Brad Myers one summer.