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Using Association Metrics to Help Users Navigate API Documentation

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4 Author(s)
Eisenberg, D.S. ; Sch. of Comput. Sci., Carnegie Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA, USA ; Stylos, J. ; Faulring, A. ; Myers, B.A.

In the past decade there has been spectacular growth in the number and size of third-party libraries, frameworks, toolkits and other Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) available to modern software developers. However, the time-saving advantages of code re-use are commonly hampered by the difficulty in finding the correct methods for a given task among the thousands of irrelevant ones. We have developed a tool called Apatite that helps address this issue by letting programmers browse APIs by viewing associations between their components. Apatite indicates which items of an API are popular in different contexts and allows browsing by initially selecting verbs (methods and actions) in addition to classes and packages. The associations are calculated by leveraging existing search engine data and source code, and verbs are identified by parsing the documentation descriptions. Apatite is available on the web and is being used by developers worldwide on a regular basis.

Published in:

Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC), 2010 IEEE Symposium on

Date of Conference:

21-25 Sept. 2010