A week ago, I asked this question about code editor UX design. The first response to this was an extremely polite moderators comment (since deleted) asking if I wanted it to be migrated to UX.StackExchange - this moderators comment was upvoted about 8 times. In my reply to this comment (also deleted) I recognized the overlap but pleaded for it to remain on the grounds that I wanted the advice of programmers first, before going to the UX designers. Thankfully, it was allowed to remain and I got invaluable help from both answers and comments.
Now, in the normal course of events, a UX designer would probably be given the UX problem (addressed by the question) first. They would then come up with some options and then test these out with developers, who might contribute their own ideas which the designer would consider, the process would then repeat.
Given that we can't really bounce questions and answers back and forth across forums, is it ok in principle, to submit UX-related questions to Programmers when they're related to the design of programmers tools?
My own view is that questions on programmers tools are high-risk on the subjectivity-scale. But, provided that they can be framed so as not to elicit too many "my tool is better because it does this" responses; they can produce informative, interesting, useful and even innovative answers.
As a tools developer these questions are based on real issues, either for now or the near future. I've listed some extremely raw questions below, to provide just a flavor:
- Which code editor or IDE feature has had the greatest influence on programming language design?
- Which parts of IDE functionality most readily lend themselves to touch/gesture based interfaces and why?
- What is the best way to measure/assess whether indentation of code within editors is more space-efficient than the alternative methods for conveying code nesting?
[Edit - Following 1st Answer]
Please don't get too distracted by the above 'sketch' questions - the real question is in the title. The idea is to establish a general principle, discussing the merits of the sample questions was not the intention.
Having said the above, the sample questions have be re-drafted with totally fictional answers for illustrative purposes only:
Q1. Which IDE feature or Code Editor feature has had the greatest influence on programming language design?
A1. Auto-completion. e.g. LINQ and other modern function languages require the subject of an expression to comes first so that auto-completion can be provided within that expression (different from SQL).
Q2. Which parts of IDE functionality most readily lend themselves to touch/gesture based interfaces and why?
A2. Operations within the IDE related to project files. Because gestures are efficient when managing large sets of objects in groups and also there's useful overlap with other touch-based applications that handle files.
Q3. What is the best way to measure/assess whether indentation of code within editors is more efficient in terms of screen real-estate usage than the alternative methods for conveying code nesting?
A3. Use the sample code from this [made up] website that implements the same algorithm using 3 popular programming langauges with each one following 3 different established conventions for code structure and formatting. Plot a graph showing the cumulative character space usage for these for each line of code. Then overlay this data with the equivalent space usage taken by the methods put forward as an alternative to indentation: