36th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2014), May 31 – June 7, 2014, Hyderabad, India

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Search and APIs
Technical Research
Hall 1, Chair: Yuriy Brun
How Do API Documentation and Static Typing Affect API Usability?
Stefan Endrikat, Stefan Hanenberg, Romain Robbes, and Andreas Stefik
(University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany; University of Chile, Chile; University of Nevada at Las Vegas, USA)
Publisher's Version
Preprint
Abstract: When developers use Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), they often rely on documentation to assist their tasks. In previous studies, we reported evidence indicating that static type systems acted as a form of implicit documentation, benefiting developer productivity. Such implicit documentation is easier to maintain, given it is enforced by the compiler, but previous experiments tested users without any explicit documentation. In this paper, we report on a controlled experiment and an exploratory study comparing the impact of using documentation and a static or dynamic type system on a development task. Results of our study both confirm previous findings and show that the benefits of static typing are strengthened with explicit documentation, but that this was not as strongly felt with dynamically typed languages.

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Time stamp: 2019-12-15T16:25:28+01:00