Opportunistic Programming: How Rapid Ideation and Prototyping Occur in Practice

Joel Brandt, Philip J. Guo, Joel Lewenstein, Scott R. Klemmer
Workshop on End-User Software Engineering IV. ICSE 2008: 30th International Conference on Software Engineering, 2008
At times, programmers work opportunistically, emphasizing speed and ease of development over code robustness and maintainability. They do this to prototype, ideate, and discover; to understand as quickly as possible what the right solution is. Despite its importance, opportunistic programming remains poorly understood when compared with traditional software engineering. Through fieldwork and a laboratory study, we observed five characteristics of opportunistic programming: Programmers build software from scratch using high-level tools, often add new functionality via copyand- paste, iterate more rapidly than in traditional development, consider code to be impermanent, and face unique debugging challenges because their applications often comprise many languages and tools composed without upfront design. Based on these characteristics, we discuss future research on tools for debugging, code foraging and reuse, and documentation that are specifically targeted at this style of development.


This project is known for: opportunistic programming tools fieldwork