Awareness 2.0: Staying Aware of Projects, Developers and Tasks using Dashboards and Feeds — ICSE 2010

Our paper on Awareness 2.0 in software development has been accepted at ICSE 2010!

In this paper, Peggy and I describe the results of an empirical study we conducted in summer the 2009 on the role of dashboards and feeds in collaborative software development. The developers in our study used IBM’s Jazz. We were surprised to find that dashboards and feeds become particularly important in critical project phases, such as the last few weeks before a release. Software developers rely on them for task prioritization, for the identification of bottlenecks, and for staying aware of other projects, developers and their tasks. As with our previous study on the role of tags in software development, we collected both qualitative and quantitative data and focused on the how and why of developers’ tool use.

We’re looking forward to presenting this work in South Africa in May 2010.

This is the preliminary abstract:

Software development teams need to maintain awareness of various different aspects ranging from overall project status and process bottlenecks to current tasks and incoming artifacts. Currently there is a lack of theoretical foundations to guide tool selection and tool design to best support awareness tasks. In this paper, we explore how the combination of highly configurable project, team and contributor dashboards along with individual event feeds is used to accomplish extensive awareness. Our results stem from an empirical study of several large development teams, with a detailed study of a team of 150 developers and additional data from another four project teams. We present how dashboards become pivotal to task prioritization in critical project phases and how they stir competition while feeds are used for short term planning. Our findings indicate that the distinction between high-level and low-level awareness is often unclear and that integrated tooling could improve development practices.

Update [June 6, 2010]: The paper is now available here (ACM Digital Library).


4 thoughts on “Awareness 2.0: Staying Aware of Projects, Developers and Tasks using Dashboards and Feeds — ICSE 2010

  1. Congrats!

    What do you think of using Jazz exclusively with respect to external validity? It seems a very industry-driven study. How or would the conclusions change with Trac or GitHub?

  2. Very good point. Our conclusions are limited to the way dashboards and feeds are implemented in the Jazz environment. However, we think that some of the conclusions will also hold for different systems, e.g. the fact that dashboards were a lot more important than we initially thought. We hope that our study is a first step to look at how these awareness mechanisms are used — there’s definitely a lot more work to be done. Actually, it’s surprising how little empirical work there is on how and why awareness tools are used.

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