Usability of Development Tools: A CASE-Study

Thomas Weber, Alois Zoitl and Heinrich Hußmann

the 22nd ACM/IEEE International Conference on Model Driven Engineering Languages and Systems Companion, pp. 228-235



To facilitate model-driven development in practice, we need tools that support and empower developers. Many of the tools for it, however, are somewhat lacking with respect to usability, which can act as a major obstacle in adopting a model-driven approach and impede productivity. Efforts to find concrete usability flaws in model-driven tools are still relatively rare, and in the human computer interaction community, usability for highly specialized expert software is also not a prominent topic. In this work we conduct an evaluation using a number of usability evaluations methods on the 4diac IDE as an example of a model-driven engineering tool to see what works and where the problems are. With those different methods we found a considerable number of usability issues of varying severity as well as some indication which methods work in what context. These findings of course help improving the 4diac IDE specifically but also offer more general insights that may benefit other tools in improving their user experience. Overall our evaluation shows that there is a definite need for better usability and more evaluation of it.