Tackling Software Navigation Issues of the Smalltalk IDE

Abstract : The IDE used in most Smalltalk dialects such as Pharo, Squeak or Cincom Smalltalk did not evolve significantly over the last years, if not to say decades. For other languages, for instance Java, the available IDEs made tremendous progress as Eclipse or NetBeans illustrate. While the Smalltalk IDE served as an exemplar for many years, other IDEs caught up or even overtook the erstwhile leader in terms of feature-richness, usability, or code navigation facilities. In this paper we first analyze the difficulty of software navigation in the Smalltalk IDE and second illustrate with concrete examples the features we added to the Smalltalk IDE to fill the gap to modern IDEs and to provide novel, improved means to navigate source space. We show that thanks to the agility and dynamics of Smalltalk, we are able to extend and enhance with reasonable effort the Smalltalk IDE to better support software navigation, program comprehension, and software maintenance in general. One such support is the integration of dynamic information into the static source views we are familiar with. Other means include easing the access to static information (for instance by better arranging important packages) or helping developers re-locating artifacts of interest (for example with a categorization system such as smart groups).
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David Röthlisberger, Oscar Nierstrasz, Stéphane Ducasse, Alexandre Bergel. Tackling Software Navigation Issues of the Smalltalk IDE. Proceedings of International Workshop on Smalltalk Technologies (IWST'09), 2009, Brest, France. ⟨hal-00746247⟩

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