NO.191 Human Aspects in Software Engineering

Shonan Village Center

March 6 - 9, 2023 (Check-in: March 5, 2023 )


  • Thomas Fritz
    • University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • Yasutaka Kamei
    • Kyushu University, Japan
  • Thomas Zimmermann
    • Microsoft, USA


Important : The venue will be "Shonan OVA", not Shonan Village Center.

Description of the meeting

Software is built by humans. Software developers are the ones who develop and evolve code, that elicit requirements, test the software, and talk to their teammates to coordinate. Yet, traditionally, research has focused to a large extent on normative processes and artefacts – how developers ought to develop software, the digital objects developers have created or modified, measuring their output, and collecting data from software repositories.

While this focus on ideal work processes and developers’ output can provide interesting and relevant insights, it falls short when the goal is to better understand the humans in the process, such as the cognitive demands and emotions they experience, and the individual differences between developers while they create and evolve the output data. Especially since these human aspects can have a significant effect on the output and its quality, the better we understand the human in the process, the better we can support the software development endeavor, and the better software quality we can achieve.

This meeting will bring together leading researchers to discuss current and future trends and challenges related to human aspects in software engineering, for example:

  • How to best support the human in the process, especially given the increasing cognitive demands and the interleaving of work and life. The complexity of software is increasing and developers now have to work with complex engineering pipelines.
  • How to evaluate and design AI-powered tools from a human perspective. AI-powered code completion tools such as Copilot are revolutionizing software development. We will discuss how to evaluate such systems from a human perspective and how to measure their impact on productivity. We will also discuss what new experiences can be created across the entire development life cycle to support humans in the software process more efficiently.
  • How to improve focus and reduce distractions for software developers. The productivity of software developers has received significant attention in industry, for example, at Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and other companies. We plan to discuss how to measure and improve productivity of software engineers.
  • How to increase software developer’s well-being. While it is common sense that well-being is important for employees, there has been limited research in the context of software engineering. We plan to discuss research opportunities around this topic.
  • How to support software developers working remotely and the new future of work. The coronavirus pandemic has significantly disrupted how people work and many employees now work remotely. We plan to discuss challenges that emerge and how we can best support developers in a remote setting. We will also plan to discuss a new future of software development that supports sustainable distributed remote work.
  • How to support developers using biometric information. Biometric sensors offer a unique opportunity to collect data about software development and correlate with other data signals to learn more about how developers work and what cognitive demands they are facing. We plan to discuss research opportunities around this topic.
  • How to navigate ethics and privacy issues. We plan to discuss common issues around ethics and privacy in empirical research and how to do research responsibility.
  • How to educate future researchers in this domain. We will focus on compiling materials for master students who want to start research projects on human aspects in software engineering. In addition, we will focus on compiling review guidelines and best practices for experienced researchers to improve the quality of ongoing research.

Meeting format. The meeting will be highly interactive. It will include a mix of short lightning talks by the attendees, followed by breakout sessions on common topics of interest. We will have extended presentations from industrial participants on how human aspects of software engineering are considered in industry. We will closely involve the participants in the design of the agenda and the definition of the desired meeting outcomes (e.g., collaborations, books, publications, special issues, follow-up meetings, etc.)

Academic impact. We expect to have lively discussions about emerging topics and challenges related to human aspects of software engineering. The industry participants will provide input on what topics are most important to focus on. We also expect that attendees will be able to identify potential collaborators for research projects and make connections to companies that they could otherwise not connect to. The collaborations will push the boundaries of empirical research and lead to high-profile publications. In addition, we expect to come up with guidelines and best practices for research in this domain, which can also be beneficial for industry.

Industrial impact. Industrial participants can benefit greatly from this seminar by learning and discussing existing state-of-the-art research as well as finding suitable potential collaborators.