Experience Factors and Tool Use in End-User Web Development

Experience Factors and Tool Use in End-User Web Development

Sue E. Kase (The Pennsylvania State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-014-1.ch072
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Abstract

In 1995, based on an earlier survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS), Boehm predicted that the number of end-users performing programminglike tasks would reach 55 million by 2005 (Boehm, Clark, Horowitz, Madachy, Selby & Westland, 1995). Adjusting this information for the accelerated rate of computer usage and other factors, Schaffidi, Shaw, and Myers (2005b) now predict the end-user population at American workplaces will increase to 90 million by 2012, and that these workers will probably execute some type of programming-like task. In a 2004 report, USBLS published projections of occupational growth patterns to 2012 and reported slightly over 3 million professionals in computer-programming occupations in 2002. To summarize, the probability is that 90 million end-users are engaged in programming-like tasks at work compared to only 3 million professionally trained programmers. Thus, the pool of end-user programmers will substantially exceed the small population who view themselves as programmers for the foreseeable future. Programming systems employed by end-users include spreadsheets, Web authoring tools, business authoring tools, graphical languages, and scripting and programming languages (Myers, Ko & Burnett, 2006). Myers et al. (2006) estimates that 50 million people in American workplaces currently use spreadsheets or databases (and therefore may do programming). More specifically, Myers et al. (2006) estimates that over 12 million people in the workplace would say that they actually do programming at work. This diverse and growing population of end-user developers performing programming-like tasks is researched with respect to the emerging subpopulations forming around application specific activities (e.g., spreadsheets, database, Web development). Each of these subpopulations or communities of end-users has characteristic needs and abilities requiring specialized attention. There are even more end-users participating in Internet- based tasks related to programming. During 2003, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that more than 53 million American adults used the Internet to publish their thoughts, repond to others, post pictures, share files and otherwise contribute to the explosion of content available online. At least 13% (nearly 7 million) of those Internet users claimed they maintained their own Web sites (Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2003). We characterize this nonprofessional population as end-user web developers, in that they have not been trained to develop software as part of their work responsibilities, but nevertheless have found themselves developing and maintaining Web content more and more as part of their daily activities. This review targets this large and growing population, one that presents both opportunities and challenges for information systems researchers studying Web development tools, resources, and education.
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Background

Over 20 years ago, surveys of management information systems (MIS) executives, researchers, and consultants ranked end-user computing (EUC) among the 10 most important MIS issues (e.g., Brancheau & Wetherbe, 1987). Rockart and Flannery (1983) declared that EUC was booming and spreading throughout entire organizations. “Users are becoming more agressive and more knowledgable” and they “require significant managerial attention.” Cotterman and Kumar (1989) attempted to understand and classify the widely differing conceptualization of the end-user into a graphical taxonomy—the “User Cube.” Davis (1985), while discussing the need for a typology of end-users, stated “In the absence of a proper classification scheme for end-users, the results of empirical investigations are likely to remain inconclusive, contradictory, and at worst, erroneous” (p. 158).

Key Terms in this Chapter

End-User: An end-user is an individual using a product (e.g., computer application) after it has been fully developed and marketed. The term usually implies an individual with a relatively low level of computer expertise. Programmers, engineers, and information systems professionals are not considered end-users.

Web Development: Web development incorporates all areas of creating a Web site for the World Wide Web. This includes Web design (graphic design, XHTML, CSS, usability, and semantics), programming, server administration, content management, marketing, testing, and deployment.

End-User Programming: Writing programs, not as a primary job function, but instead in support of achieving some other goal such as accounting, Web page creation, general office work, scientific research, entertainment, and so forth. End-user programmers generally are not formally trained as programmers and typically use special-purpose languages such as spreadsheet or database languages, or Web authoring scripts.

What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG): A WYSIWYG editor or application is one that enables a developer to see what the end result will look like while the interface or document is being created. This is in contrast to more traditional editors that require the developer to enter descriptive codes (or markup) and do not permit an immediate way to see the results (see HTML).

Usability: Usability is the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specific goals, with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a context of use. Both software and Web sites can be tested for usability. For example, the ease with which visitors are able to use a Web site.

Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML): Is the set of markup symbols or codes inserted in a file intended for display on a World Wide Web browser page. The markup tells the Web browser how to display a Web page’s words and images for the user. Each individual markup code is referred to as an element or a tag.

Programming: The process of transforming a mental plan of desired actions for a computer into a representation that can be understood by the computer, called a program (a specific set of ordered operations for a computer to perform).

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