Indentation: Simply a Matter of Style or Support for Program Comprehension?
An early study showed that indentation is not a matter of style, but provides actual support for program comprehension. In this paper, we present a non-exact replication of this study. Our aim is to provide empirical evidence for the suggested level of indentation made by many style guides. Following Miara and others, we also included the perceived difficulty, and we extended the original design to gain additional insights into the influence of indentation on visual effort by employing an eye tracker. In the course of our study, we asked 22 participants to calculate the output of Java code snippets with different levels of indentation, while we recorded their gaze behavior. We did not find any indication that the indentation levels affect program comprehension or visual effort, so we could not replicate the findings of Miara and others. Nevertheless, our modernization of the original experiment design is a promising starting point for future studies in this field.
Sat 25 May Times are displayed in time zone: (GMT-04:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada) change
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Jennifer Bauer, Janet Siegmund, Norman PeitekLeibniz Institute for Neurobiology, Johannes Hofmeister, Sven ApelSaarland UniversityPre-print
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