Richard,

Thank you, but I am not sure that readability of short snippets
is the same thing as readability of "connected passages", and I'm
pretty sure that readability of 2-page programs is not the same
as readability of million-line programs.


In any experiment it is necessary to restrict the attributes
that could change the experimental results to just those of
interest.  The larger the amount of source used the larger
the likelihood that more uncontrolled attributes will occur.

Using snippets would allow you to focus on specific source
attributes.

What exactly is readability?  Source is read for a variety of purposes
and readability could change for each purpose.

That's an interesting thing to do, but what I _mean_ by
"readability" here doesn't have to do with familiarity or
agreeability or even speed of skimming. The definition I
was tacitly using is something like
"Difficulty of finding correct information while performing
a simple maintenance task"

I would say that your definition of readability would be a small
component of this task.  You are asking subjects to comprehend
an algorithm and then come up with a variation of that algorithm.
This is a big task in itself.

and to measure that, I think you have to get people to perform
a simple maintenance task, and that really does need bigger
examples.

This is an experiment in ease of maintenance of a particular program
experiment, not a readability experiment.

I'm considering the possibility, you see, that unfamiliar code
in a style that people don't _like_ as much might (or of course
might _not_) be better for them. One of the reasons for using
a pseudo-code is to avoid the curly brace wars.

Giving the same code to two groups of people, with the source
formatted different for each group and comparing group
performance might be a way of seeing performance differences
caused by layout differences.

--
Derek M. Jones                         tel: +44 (0) 1252 520 667
Knowledge Software Ltd                 mailto:de...@knosof.co.uk
Source code analysis                   http://www.knosof.co.uk

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