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The Cost of Syntax and How To Avoid It: Text versus Frame-Based Editing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCELT: COMPSAC Symposium on Computing Education & Learning Technologies
Subtitle of host publicationpart of COMPSAC 2016: The 40th IEEE Computer Society International Conference on Computers, Software & Applications
Place of PublicationAtlanta
PublisherIEEE
Number of pages6
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 Aug 2016

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Abstract

Plain text has always been the predominant medium for writing and editing programs for expert users. Text is powerful and flexible, but requires more careful manipulation than structural editors, such as those found in block-based environments. In addition, in textual editors programmers are responsible for managing detailed orthography and layout – when beginners work with text, significant time is spent managing syntax problems, indentation and spacing. Frame-based editing is a new editing paradigm that combines the structural editing of block-based systems with the flexibility and keyboard-focus of text editing. In this paper, we empirically examine how much time and effort is spent by beginners on managing syntax errors and indentation, which can be automatically saved by switching to frame-based editing. The data is obtained using the Blackbox dataset; the results predict a clear advantage of frame-based editing over traditional text editors.

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