How Developers Use API Documentation: An Observation Study

by Michael Meng, Stephanie Steinhardt, and Andreas Schubert
ABSTRACT
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) play a crucial role in modern software engineering. However, learning to use a new API often is a challenge for developers. In order to support the learning process effectively, we need to understand how developers use documentation when starting to work with a new API. We report an exploratory study that observed developers while they solved programming tasks involving a simple API. The results reveal differences regarding developer activities and documentation usage that a successful design strategy for API documentation needs to accommodate. Several guidelines to optimize API documentation are discussed.

Editorial: Michael Albers

by Michael Albers
East Carolina University
albersm@ecu.edu
Michael Albers is a professor at East Carolina University, where he teaches in the professional writing program. In 1999, he completed his PhD in technical communication and rhetoric from Texas Tech University. Before coming to ECU, he taught for 8 years at the University of Memphis. He is a Senior Member of ACM. In addition to his work on CDQ, he was SIGDOC Secretary from 1999 – 2005 and the 2013 SIGDOC Conference Chair. He also chaired the Symposium on Communicating Complex Information from 2012 – 2018. Before earning his PhD, he worked for 10 years as a technical communicator, writing software documentation and performing interface design. His research interests include designing documentation on the communication of complex information.

Reducing Harm by Designing Discourse and Digital Tools for Opioid Users’ Contexts: The Chicago Recovery Alliance’s Community-Based Context of Use and PwrdBy’s Technology-Based Context of Use

by Kristin Marie Bivens
Harold Washington College
kbivens@ccc.edu
ABSTRACT
The United States is struggling with an opioid overdose (OD) crisis. The opioid OD epidemic includes legally prescribed and illicitly acquired opioids. Regardless of if an opioid is legal, understanding users’ contexts of use is essential to design effective methods for individuals to reverse opioid OD. In other words, if health information is not designed to be contextually relevant, the opioid OD health information will be unusable. To demonstrate these distinct healthcare design contexts, I extend Patient Experience Design (PXD) to include community-based and technology-based contexts of use by analyzing two case examples of the Chicago Recovery Alliance’s and PwrdBy’s attempts to decrease deaths by opioid OD. Next, I discuss implications of community-based and technology-based PXD within communities of opioid users, critiquing each method and suggesting four contexts of use-heuristic categories to consider when designing health communication information for users in these contexts.

DJs, Playlists, and Community: Imagining Communication Design through Hip Hop

by Victor Del Hierro
ABSTRACT
This article argues for the inclusion of Hip Hop communities in technical communication research. Through Hip Hop, technical communicators can address the recent call for TPC work to expand the field through culturally sensitive and diverse studies that honor communities and their practices. Using a Hip Hop community in Houston as a case study, this article discusses the way DJs operate as technical communicators within their communities. Furthermore, Hip Hop DJs build complex relationships with communities to create localized and accessible content. As technical communicators, Hip Hop practitioners can teach us to create community-based communication design for more diverse contexts.

Testing the Difference Between Appearance and Ability Customization

by Ryan Rogers and Laura Dunlow
ABSTRACT
Gaming literature largely treats customization as a monolithic concept. This article provides three experiments that test the differences between appearance customization and ability customization. While these three studies provided a degree of replication, they examined between 105 and 147 college students in three different video game scenarios (no game play, non-human avatar, and difficult game). While the results varied slightly based on the scenario, evidence emerged that appearance customization was more likely than ability customization to enhance participant attitude toward the game and likelihood to spend money on the game. The findings of these studies should inform the types of customization used in a variety of domains and should provide guidance on the design process to offer simple and cost-effective methods to improve sales and attitudes toward content. Specifically, appearance customization is a more effective way for organizations to influence users.