ITR: Web Development by Nonprogrammers

  • Rosson, Mary Beth (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


EIA - 0312668

Mary Beth Rosson

Institution: Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Title: Web Development by Nonprogrammers

This ITR small award provides support to study web development by nonprogrammers and to develop and evaluate a web development tool for nonprogrammers. Particular emphasis in the evaluation is placed on determination of differences as a function of gender including an analysis of gender related characteristics of user needs and expectations for end-user programming and an assessment of the extent to which males and females respond to the end-user programming tools that are developed. Pilot studies have shown that substantial numbers of workers without programming skills are involved in web-based development and that many of the nonprogrammers are limited by the difficulties inherent in interactive web development. This project addresses this situation by analyzing nonprogrammers' needs and expectations and then developing and evaluating a web development tool for nonprogrammers in which construction and the use of the web application are interleaved and seamless.

The intellectual merit of this project lies in its sound conceptual basis and its focus on nonprogrammers rather than the more prevalent analyses and tools that are oriented towards programmers. The investigators have a solid track record with significant prior work on which to build this study. The most important results may be the research findings that characterize needs and use patterns of the non-programmer user groups for developers and project managers. The evaluative research and the resulting tools have the potential to inform or influence the development of new commercial products oriented towards the non-programmer user class.

The project has broader impacts in many areas beyond the transferability to commercial product development. The studies on gender differences in needs and tool use are fundamental to providing workplace support for a large sector of the workforce. Many non-programmers are routinely required to participate in projects with web development components. This research could lead to the development of tools and workplace environments that are more inclusive of individuals without significant programming expertise. This would allow a broader sector of the population to contribute their expertise and visions in meaningful ways through web media as productive members of the workforce.

This project addresses a problem and area of real need. Currently there are few tools geared towards nonprogrammers despite the growing demand for them by many sectors of the workforce. The research should show developers how nonprogrammers think and operate and thus help them optimize tools to support this sector of the workforce.

Effective start/end date9/15/037/31/06


  • National Science Foundation: $237,750.00


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