I’m really racking them up this year at ICSME’15! This one is an Industry track paper I did with the good folks over at Codealike.

Here is the preprint. You’ll find more information about this paper on my publications page as I add it.


Developers often rely on the web-based tools for troubleshooting, collaboration, issue tracking, code reviewing, documentation viewing, and a myriad of other uses. Developers also use the web for non-development purposes, such as reading news or social media. In this paper we explore whether web usage is detriment to a developer’s focus on work from a sample of over 150 developers. Additionally, we investigate if highly-focused developers use the web differently than other developers. Our qualitative findings suggest highly-focused developers use the web differently, but we are unable to predict a developer’s focused based on web usage alone. Further quantitative findings suggest that web usage has does not negatively impact on a developer’s focus.

Review 1

This is an interesting paper that primarily presents data - which is great.

In a few cases - such as the Office Collaboration tools - I would have like to see some attempt at better understanding why the quartiles were so inconsistent (or didn’t fall off in what might be an expected way). I don’t know if you have anything in your data that might be revealing.

Review 2


The authers studied how developers use online content and to which degree their development focus is influenced. The aim of their study is to find out if software quality might be affected by any internet content while online tools in general are required for development. They concluded that usingthe internet for general purposes must not influence developers, but highly focused developers use the web rarely, anyway.

Strong Aspects

In general, it is a good direction of research to better understand developers behaviour, and especially state-of-the-art influences on their daily work. Studying the open web content and the raising accessibility to it during work is an interesting field as well. The paper described the data base and their processing in a good manner and the paper is written in good style.

Week Aspects

Accept of the overall topic and the paper’s quality, I miss a more qualitative discussion. Perhaps, the authors should get in contact with psychological groups. Especially in the topic of attention and productivity.

For example, I miss a discussion of productivity patterns such as the promodoro principle (i.e., no one is able to keep attention active during the whole day, so intentially get distracted in a time boxed manner). Furthermore, social interaction is very important for anyone also to raise productivity. In a similar manner, people differ how much interaction they need to be as much efficient / focused as they can. The authers did not study the effect for each individual how it might be affected for example if the access to social networks is blocked. Additionally, the authers did not discuss if some participants might worked for companies with already blocked social networks.

On a detailed level I miss a more clear speration between the web content. For example, how did you decide between technical blogs and general purpose blogs not relevant for their work?

Finally, there is no discussion of a threat of validity due to the influence on the participants by the measurement itself. If they knew that their behaviour is analysed, they might have act differently.