Keeping Our Eyes Wide Open

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There was more going on in San Francisco than the Bay to Breakers race this past weekend (May 18-19). The 35th International Conference on Software Engineering, the premier software engineering conference, also began and will run from May 18-26. ICSE, as it is known in the research community, has attracted more than 1000 people from 50 countries to the Bay Area for over a week of communicating new advancements and best practices in software engineering. Tasktop is a sponsor this year and will be participating in events such as the student-industry lunch, where 300 students will have a chance to exchange ideas with and hear about opportunities at sponsoring companies. With Tasktop’s current growth, we are eager to meet these high-caliber students! But Tasktop has even deeper roots with ICSE. A fundamental aspect of Tasktop’s vision has always been to improve communication and collaboration amongst the people involved in software development so as to truly connect the world of software delivery.

The initial step Tasktop took towards this vision was to embed the concept of a task into the IDE as part of the Eclipse Mylyn project. When Mik Kersten, our CEO, started the Mylyn project in the UBC Software Practice lab, the need for tooling to connect the IDE to common issue repository systems quickly became evident. Luckily, a connector that allowed issues from Bugzilla to be brought into the Eclipse IDE was available within the Software Practices Lab. This connector had been built as part of the Hipikat project . Hipikat recommends items from a software project’s history, such as past bug reports, source code commits and email messages, that might be useful to a developer currently trying to perform a task on the project.

In essence, Hipikat serves as a memory of the entire project built from the project repositories so that it can answer a question that you might have asked someone at the water cooler if they had only not left the project. The starting point for many Hipikat queries is an issue or a bug. For instance, a developer may select a bug he or she wants to work on and ask Hipikat for similar bugs that have been solved in the past. As a result, Hipikat needed a means of having bugs in the IDE, which caused the initial development of a Bugzilla connector. Shawn Minto, who built the Bugzilla connector, is one of Tasktop’s most experienced software engineers. On Friday of the conference, Davor “ubrani”, who conceived and built Hipikat as part of his Ph.D. work at UBC, and myself, will receive the “Most Influential Paper 10 Years Later” Award for the paper about Hipikat. Our paper is receiving the award, as it catalyzed substantial work on recommenders for software engineering, some of which are finding their way into practice today. For example, more and more sophisticated code completion recommendations are finding their way into the Eclipse Java editor.

Hipikat’s name means “eyes wide open” in the West African language Wolof. Keeping your eyes wide open is as critical today for tackling the hard problems of software engineering as it was ten years ago. Each day, Tasktop strives to keep its eyes wide open when tackling the challenges that come with with connecting the world of software delivery. Will you be attending the ICSE Conference? If so, please tweet me at @gail_murphy.