Monthly Archives: July 2015

Eye Tracking within the IDE

We are happy to announce that the paper “iTrace: Enabling Eye Tracking on Software Artifacts within the IDE to Support Software Engineering Tasks” got accepted at the ESEC/FSE Tool Demo Track! The paper was written in collaboration with Timothy Shaffer, Jenna Wise, Braden Walters, Michael Falcone, and Bonita Sharif from the Youngstown State University in USA.

The paper presents iTrace, an Eclipse plugin that implicitly records developers’ eye movements while they work on change tasks. iTrace records eye movements on various types of software artifacts (Java code, text/html/xml documents, diagrams), as well as Eclipse user interface elements. Currently, the X60 and EyeX eye trackers from Tobii are supported, but iTrace is designed for easy addition of new devices.

This video provides a short demonstration of iTrace:

A preprint of the paper can be found online.

Our paper “Development Emails Content Analyzer: Intention Mining in Developer Discussions” got accepted at ASE’15!

Written development communication (e.g. mailing lists, issue trackers) constitutes a precious source of information to build recommenders for software engineers, for example aimed at suggesting experts, or at redocumenting existing source code. In this paper we propose a novel, semi-supervised approach named DECA (Development Emails Content Analyzer) that uses Natural Language Parsing to classify the content of development emails according to their purpose (e.g. feature request, opinion asking, problem discovery, solution proposal, information giving etc), identifying email elements that can be used for specific tasks.


A study based on data from Qt and Ubuntu, highlights a high precision (90%) and recall (70%) of DECA in classifying email content, outperforming traditional machine learning strategies. Moreover, we successfully used DECA for re-documenting source code of Eclipse and Lucene, improving the recall, while keeping high precision, of a previous approach based on ad-hoc heuristics.

Our paper “Tracing Software Developers’ Eyes and Interactions for Change Tasks” got accepted at ESEC-FSE’15!

What are software developers doing during a change task?
While an answer to this question opens countless opportunities to support developers in their work, only little is known about developers’ detailed navigation behavior for realistic change tasks. Most empirical studies on developers performing change tasks are limited to very small code snippets or are limited by the granularity or the detail of the data collected for the study. In this research, we try to overcome these limitations by combining user interaction monitoring with very fine granular eye- tracking data that is automatically linked to the underlying source code entities in the IDE.
In a study with 12 professional and 10 student developers working on three change tasks from an open source system, we used our approach to investigate the detailed navigation of developers for realistic change tasks. The results of our study show, amongst others, that the eye-tracking data does indeed capture different aspects than user interaction data and that developers focus on only small parts of methods that are often related by data flow. We discuss our findings and their implications for better developer tool support.

You can already read the Preprint of this paper!

Survey on “Testing Developers Practices”

Our research group at the University of Zurich together with the Delft University of Technology research group, is performing a study aimed at observing (and/or measuring) how developers perform bug fixing tasks during test activity. Specifically, tools such as Evosuite ( can automatically generate test cases to help developers test Java classes and find possible bugs.


Thus, OUR GOAL is to better understand the bug fixing practice of developers during their testing activities when relying on generated test cases (by Evosuite).

We will ask you to perform a set of very SIMPLE bug fixing tasks (NO MORE THAN 1 Hour) and answer a Survey after the bug fixing experience. The task can be performed remotely (in multiple rounds) in you home/office (where you prefer).

We will keep your survey responses anonymous. We will NOT attribute answers to any particular participant.

We would greatly appreciate your participation! Thank you!

If you are interested to partecipate to this study please feel free to contact

Dr. Sebastiano Panichella and Dr. Annibale Panichella rely on the

following e-mail addresses: or
Thank you very much for your effort.

Best regards,
Sebastiano and Annibale