Documentation and unit tests increase software maintainability, but real world software projects rarely have adequate coverage. We hypothesize that, in part, this is because existing authoring tools require developers to adjust their workflows significantly. To study whether improved interaction design could affect unit testing and documentation practice, we created an authoring support tool called Vesta. The main insight guiding Vesta’s interaction design is that developers frequently manually test the software they are building. We propose leveraging runtime information from these manual executions. Because developers naturally exercise the part of the code on which they are currently working, this information will be highly relevant to appropriate documentation and testing tasks. In a complex coding task, nearly all documentation created using Vesta was accurate, compared to only 60% of documentation created without Vesta, and Vesta was able to generate significant portions of all tests, even those written manually by developers without Vesta.


We released the prototype we used in our study as an open-source project.

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