Influence of Code Completion Methods on the Usability of APIs

Thomas Scheller and Eva Kühn


Human Computer Interaction, Programming Tools and Languages, Application Programming Interfaces, Code Completion


Code completion is an important feature in modern IDEs, helping programmers to find needed classes and methods in external APIs. A code completion mechanism defines the way APIs are presented to the programmer and thereby has a strong influence on their usability. In this paper, we present a study that evaluates the code completion mechanisms of popular Java and .Net IDEs. It shows that there are significant differences between them, and that with a good code completion mechanism, programmers more often find the most optimal methods and overloads, reducing the complexity of the resulting code and improving overall performance. Based on the results we present suggestions to improve the usability of APIs.

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