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Leveraging Task Contexts for Managing Developers' Coordination

Publication Type:

Conference Proceedings


ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 2012, ACM, Seattle, WA, p.1351-1360 (2012)


We introduce a new method for determining work dependencies
that are antecedents to coordination requirements among
members of a software development organization. Our method
leverages records of individual activity associated with
development tasks, sometimes called task context, which can be
collected by monitoring the actions carried out by a developer
during work sessions within her development environment. We
describe an algorithm that measures similarity between task
contexts and produces a measure of closeness between the
corresponding developers. By means of a field study on an open
source project that routinely records task context data, we show
how the closeness relationship accurately determines the same
coordination requirements detected using traditional methods. Our
method also provides a temporal advantage, since it uses “live”
instead of historical data. We explain how these findings make
coordination requirements actionable for management-, designand
team-related decisions as the development work is underway.
This moves research in this area from post-mortem analysis to
proactive detection of coordination requirements