Digitally Annexing Desk Space for Software Development

John Hardy, Christopher Bull, Gerald Kotonya, and Jon Whittle
Lancaster University, UK

Software engineering is a team activity yet the programmer’s key tool, the IDE, is still largely that of a soloist. This paper describes the vision, implementation and initial evaluation of CoffeeTable – a fully featured research prototype resulting from our reflections on the software design process. CoffeeTable exchanges the traditional IDE for one built around a shared interactive desk. The proposed solution encourages smooth transitions between agile and traditional modes of working whilst helping to create a shared vision and common reference frame – key to sustaining a good design. This paper also presents early results from the evaluation of CoffeeTable and offers some insights from the lessons learned. In particular, it highlights the role of developer tools and the software constructions that are shaped by them.