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Language Interaction Design
The goal of the Language Interaction Design (LIXD) workshop was to lay the foundations for a discipline of language interaction design that looks further than the traditional categories of syntax and semantics. The essential question discussed during the workshop concerns the relation between development environment and programming language, from the conceptual, technical and human perspectives. The attendees of the workshop came from diverse backgrounds, ranging from domain-specific languages, model-driven engineering, spreadsheets, interaction design, live programming and programming languages.
A running thread through the workshop was that, from the programmerís perspective, a programming language cannot be separated from its integrated development environment. This has consequences for reasoning about concepts such as productivity, maintainability in terms of program code alone. Indeed it affects the notion of programming language design itself: not only can a programming language be seen as a user interface for programmers - its use is also supported and guided by numerous tools (editors, outliners, navigators, inspectors, debuggers, visualizers, etc.) that lie outside of the category of language proper. Yet, the programmerís experience is affected by both. A deeper integration between the user interface and language hence opens up new ways of improving quality, productivity and reliability in programming. The talks in the workshop demonstrated some early examples of such synergy.
A concrete outcome of the workshop is the intent to plan a workshop on the application of the cognitive dimensions (CD) framework to programming languages. CD is a framework for evaluating the quality of interaction design. In this workshop we hope to attract presentations of case studies where such (qualitative) evaluations are performed on programming languages, domain-specific languages, modeling languages etc.
The workshop was organized with talks in the morning, and workshops and discussion in the afternoon. Each morning started with one of the invited keynotes. The afternoon sessions were moderated by one of the participants. During one afternoon we performed a scientific experiment, guided by Alan Blackwell. This consisted of performing a programming task in a visual programming language. The participants retreated in pairs: one participant sat at the keyboard, and the other one observed and made notes; finally a questionnaire had to be filled in. The results of the experiment were collected and then summarized by Alan Blackwell the day after. In more than one way, this was an eye opening experience for many of the participants.