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Using iterative refinement to find reusable software

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1 Author(s)
Henninger, Scott ; Nebraska Univ., Lincoln, NE, USA

Component libraries are the dominant paradigm for software reuse, but they suffer from a lack of tools that support the problem-solving process of locating relevant components. Most retrieval tools assume that retrieval is a simple matter of matching well-formed queries to a repository. But forming queries can be difficult. A designer's understanding of the problem evolves while searching for a component, and large repositories often use an esoteric vocabulary. CodeFinder is a retrieval system that combines retrieval by reformulation (which supports incremental query construction) and spreading activation (which retrieves items related to the query) to help users find information. I designed it to investigate the hypothesis that this design makes for a more effective retrieval system. My study confirmed that it was more helpful to users seeking relevant information with ill-defined tasks and vocabulary mismatches than other query systems. The study supports the hypothesis that combining techniques effectively satisfies the kind of information needs typically encountered in software design.<>

Published in:

Software, IEEE  (Volume:11 ,  Issue: 5 )