Suggesting API Usage to Novice Programmers with the Example Guru

Abstract

Programmers, especially novices, often have difficulty learning new APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). Existing research has not fully addressed novice programmers' unawareness of all available API methods. To help novices discover new and appropriate uses for API methods, we designed a system called the Example Guru. The Example Guru suggests context-relevant API methods based on each programmer's code. The suggestions provide contrasting examples to demonstrate how to use the API methods. To evaluate the effectiveness of the Example Guru, we ran a study comparing novice programmers' use of the Example Guru and documentation-inspired API information. We found that twice as many participants accessed the Example Guru suggestions compared to documentation and that participants used more than twice as many new API methods after accessing suggestions than documentation.

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