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Several interviews that we conducted highlight that many of the ease-of-use (usability) problems of CASE tools are instances of "conceptual gaps". A conceptual gap arises because of some difference between the software developer's mental model of the integrated development environment (IDE) and the way it can be used. Filling these gaps is the first step towards human-centric IDE. In this article, we begin by motivating our investigations with a survey highlighting common usability problems in the most popular Java IDEs. We then discuss how the developer's experiences with the complicity of cognitive studies can minimize these conceptual gaps while making the IDE more human-centered. We close our discussion with recommendations for establishing a rigorous scientific investigation for filling these conceptual gaps, as well as for developing and evaluating the ease of use of IDEs.
Date of Conference: 2001