Using CDs to design a new programming language

I came across an interesting Master’s thesis the other day. Chad Austin developed a functional shading language and used the cognitive dimensions framework to guide and evaluate the design of the language. I’d be really interested in hearing more about this type of work. I’m keen to learn from others experiences using the cognitive dimensions…


Studying design patterns

The Channel 9 video prompted some interesting questions. One question asked about common patterns and design guidelines. Seemed like a good opportunity to mention that we’re currently lucky enough to have Jeff Stylos from Carnegie Mellon University working with us as an intern until the end of December. While he’s here he’s studying different object creation…


Usability study video

In October, James Conard made a video of one of the usability sessions we ran on the Windows Workflow API. The video is now up on Channel 9. Somebody asked if the results of studies like these are generalised beyond the specific APIs being tested. The answer is yes, they are. There are a couple of ways we do this….


Maintaining state in an Indigo service

I’ve been working on usability studies for Indigo for the last 12 months now and have been learning a lot. I just learned another very valuable lesson this week, thanks to Steve Swartz. During a study I was running last week, participants worked with a service that maintained state between calls for each session but…


HOWTO: Analyze the data collected in a usability study

I just realised that I never got around to finishing off a series of posts on how to design and run an API usability study. After designing and running the study, the fun part begins – making sense of all the data that you have collected. The first thing to do is to collect together all…


PPIG 2005 and blogging

I attended the Psychology of Programming Interest Group workshop at the end of June in Brighton. It was a really interesting workshop, finished off nicely by a keynote from Marc Eisenstadt. He encouraged all attendees at the workshop to consider starting up a blog and posting on various programming usability issues. I’m looking forward to…


Factory design pattern and usability

Luke Church watched the API usability presentation and contacted me with a question about a point I made regarding the factory design pattern and usability. One thing that I probably didn’t make clear in the presentation is that the difficulties with the factory design pattern are greatest for opportunistic programmers (or programmers working in an…


We’re hiring

We have several open positions in the Visual Studio user experience team. One of those positions is for somebody to work with me on the API usability efforts. We’ve got lots of exciting ideas about research projects that we’d like to work on to provide API teams at Microsoft with data about their customers that…


API usability evaluation

Christopher Oezbek is keeping notes about an API usability evaluation he is doing using the cognitive dimensions.


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…