A taxonomic analysis of typographic programming style Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/bz60d058c

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  • Program comprehension is important in program testing, debugging, and maintenance. Programming style impacts program understanding. However, there has not been any systematic identification of individual style factors and their contribution to program comprehension. In this thesis we present a programming style taxonomy composed of three classes: typographic (program layout and commenting), control structures, and information structures. Each class is further subdivided into macro (whole program or system) and micro (module or statement) subclasses. The taxonomy reveals many conflicting and unsubstantiated rules in collections of style rules from various publications on programming style. Further, it provides plausible explanations for some of the inconsistent results in programming style research. This thesis concentrates on the isolation of typographic style factors and analysis of their affects on programmer comprehension. General principles of good macro- and microtypographic style are identified and the "book paradigm," a mechanism for implementing the principles, is presented. Four experiments, involving both student and professional programmers, demonstrate that the macro- and micro-typographic principles incorporated into the book paradigm significantly improved program comprehension and maintenance. These results have direct application to programming language design and programming tools such as pretty-printers, language directed editors, style analyzers, and source code control systems.
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