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Programming environments for blocks need first-class software refactoring support: A position paper


Block-based programming languages and their development environments have become a widely used educational platform for novices to learn how to program. In addition, these languages and environments have been increasingly embraced by domain experts to develop end-user software. Though popular for having a "low floor" (easy to get started), programs written in block-based languages often become unwieldy as projects grow progressively more complex. Software refactoring - improving the design quality of a codebase while preserving its external functionality - has been shown highly effective as a means of improving the quality of software written in text-based languages. Unfortunately, programming environments for blocks lack systematic software refactoring support. In this position paper, we argue that first-class software refactoring support must become an essential feature in programming environments for blocks; we present our research vision and concrete research directions, including program analysis to detect "code smells" automated transformations for block-based programs to support common refactoring techniques, and integration of refactoring into introductory computing curricula.

Blocks and Beyond Workshop (Blocks and Beyond), 2015 IEEE