Category: Blog (page 4 of 5)

Criteria for Selecting a Site for Building a Sustainable Data Center

In the fall semester 2014 I participated in a course at UZH where we learnt more about sustainability in the information technology environment. Part of the course was to write a short fact sheet discussing a selected topic.

My fact sheet consisted of a short summary of criteria one needs to take into consideration when selecting a suitable site for building a sustainable cloud data center. Click here if you want to have a very short and concise summary of the topic.

Survey: The Role of Music During Your Software Engineering Work

In some domains, studies have shown that music can improve the productivity of workers for some tasks. We invite you to participate in our survey about the role music plays during your software engineering work. Your answers will help us to find out more on how to improve developer productivity.

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QuickTip: Growth Hack Free Email Course

If you are a developer and want to get more (quality) downloads, I have a great free quicktip for you: Rahul Varshneya offers a free email course to get powerful, actionable growth hacks that will boost your mobile app downloads. You may find it here.


As I was very happy with the email course and learnt a lot, I submitted a short testimonial which Rahul just released on his website:




TelerikSelfie – My three secrets to app success

This is my entry to the TelerikSelfie Contest. The first time ever I took a video of myself and the first take of the video 😉

QuickTip: Block ads in Internet Explorer

The only reason I use Google Chrome (besides that it’s fast) is that I can install an ad blocker. It not only makes websites a lot faster, but also more stable, secure and less cluttered. And I am aware that many websites rely on ads as their main revenue channel – and I am willing to accept some ads – but when 40% of the space is used for ads, it’s just too much. Anyway, i just found a solution to block ads in Internet Explorer (also the modern version of Windows 8.1): Tracking Protection Lists. There, you can add EasyList Standard (the list AdBlock uses too) and Stop Google Tracking, if you want.


Now I can use Internet Explorer without ads, and enjoy the most secure & energy-saving browser, and let the tabs sync to my other devices (Lumia & Surface)!


A pre-print of “Software Developers’ Perceptions of Productivity” for FSE’14 is available! [Paper]

We just published a pre-print of our paper “Software Developers’ Perceptions of Productivity” for FSE’14, the 22nd ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE 2014). The paper was written by Thomas Fritz, Gail C. Murphy, Thomas Zimmermann and me.

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Learning: A Windows (Phone) Developer working on iOS apps (with Xamarin)

Together with my colleagues at the MIT Innovation AG, I just started the development of our Picturex App for iOS, using Xamarin. As we just recently released the Android (and obviously the Windows Phone) version of the app, this means we already have a well-working shared project (containing all the ViewModels and Models). So the first step (after figuring out how to best develop in Visual Studio (on Windows) and deploy on a Mac) is to get to know the Apple UI Design guidelines. A couple of years ago I already developed two iOS apps, but when WindowsPhone came out, I rapidly changed plans. The design of iOS has well evolved, and actually, I really like the new flat design of iOS7/8 – possibly, because it resembles Microsoft’s Modern UI (Metro) design a lot. Anyway, I am now looking at the different existing (and not existing – why is there no CheckBox) controls and comparing them to the controls I know from WindowsPhone (and Android). I will update this blog post, as soon as I have a shareable version of my ‘transfer’ notes. Microsoft did a great job to guide iOS Developers to Windows, and I am learning the same thing but backwards ;).


While I was seeking through various web ressources, I found an interesting presentation by Qubop Inc (from last year) on what developers should expect when they come from iOS to Windows Phone. The following two slides are noteworthy, as I never expected, that WindowsPhone development is so rapid (and obviously uses a lot less code):

Qubop_1 Qubop_2



Stay tuned for updates on my (and our) experience in porting the Windows Phone and Android version to iOS.

Picturex App for Android: Release!

I am extremely happy to announce, that our team at the MIT Innovation AG just released the first version of Picturex for Android (requires Android 4.0 or higher). Developed with Xamarin, followed by an intensive private and public beta testing, we were now able to release the first version, just right for the summer time. This is THE app to exchange pictures with others from your city trip, bathing holiday or openair event with others! Please go on and download the app for free for your Windows Phone or Android device. And thanks for a good rating in the app store! By the way, we just started with the development of the iOS version. So stay tuned 🙂



My first paper “Software Developers’ Perceptions of Productivity” has been accepted for FSE 14 [Paper]

I am very excited to announce that my very first paper “Software Developers’ Perceptions of Productivity” has been accepted for 22nd ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE 2014), which will be held in Hong Kong, China. The paper was co-written with Thomas Fritz, Gail C. Murphy and Thomas Zimmermann. It was an amazing experience and I learnt a lot.


The better the software development community becomes at creating software, the more software the world seems to demand. Although there is a large body of research about measuring and investigating productivity from an organizational point of view, there is a paucity of research about how software developers, those at the front-line of software construction, think about, assess and try to improve their productivity. To investigate software developers’ perceptions of software development productivity, we conducted two studies: a survey with 379 professional software developers to help elicit themes and an observational study with 11 professional software developers to investigate emergent themes in more detail. In both studies, we found that developers perceive their days as productive when they complete many or big tasks without significant interruptions or context switches. Yet, the observational data we collected shows our participants performed significant task and activity switching while still feeling productive. We analyze such apparent contradictions in our findings and use the analysis to propose ways to better support developers in a retrospection and improvement of their productivity through the development of new tools and a sharing of best practices.


You may find the final version here. You can find the survey and interview questions and the visualization of the observational data here. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Exchange unforgettable memories of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil with Picturex!

A picture says more than a thousand words:

Picturex_WorldCup2014More information here.


Tagi-News für Windows: Ich brauche Ihre Hilfe!

Liebe Windows Tagi-News Benutzerin und lieber Windows Tagi-News Benutzer

Unser Problem

Seit etwas mehr als zwei Jahren nutzen knapp 8’000 Benutzer die Tagi-News App für Windows Phone und seit ca. einem Jahr inzwischen knapp 26’000 Benutzer die kostenlose Tagi-News App für Windows 8. Tagi-News gehört seit jeher zu den beliebtesten und meist-gedownloadeten Apps in der Kategorie News (in der Schweiz) und die Version für Windows 8 wurde 2013 von Microsoft sogar zur App des Jahres gekürt.

Tagesanzeiger hat die Veröffentlichung der beiden Apps nicht unterstützt, aber gutgeheissen. Durch die Einführung der so genannten Paywall (kostenpflichtige Artikel) können wir die Inhalte und somit die Tagi-News Apps leider nicht mehr anbieten. Mehrere Versuche zur Einigung mit Tagesanzeiger und einer Einführung einer offiziellen App auf beiden Plattformen sind leider aus Desinteresse von Tagesanzeiger gescheitert.

Wir bedauern diese Entwicklung sehr, können aber leider nichts mehr unternehmen. Nur noch Sie können uns helfen: Bitte teilen Sie Tagesanzeiger mit, dass Sie weiterhin auf Ihren Windows Geräten Tagi-News lesen wollen und nicht weiterhin systematisch ignoriert werden wollen. Besten Dank für Ihre Unterstützung!

Ihre MIT Innovation AG

Möchten Sie jetzt mithelfen?

Sie können uns helfen! Bitte senden Sie eine E-Mail an Tagesanzeiger (oder melden Sie sich via Twitter oder Facebook) und bitten Sie Tagesanzeiger, den Entscheid nochmals zu überdenken. Bei Fragen stehen wir Ihnen gerne hier zur Verfügung!

Ja, ich will helfen!

(öffnet eine neue E-Mail, die Sie nur noch absenden können!)

Weitere Informationen…

… finden Sie auf hier. Herzlichen Dank für Ihre Unterstützung!


Information Fragments – SEAL & Adesso Innovation Snack

Innovation Snacks are technology talks about research and development activities, technologies, and tools. It is a joint event series of s.e.a.l. and adesso, in which researchers and practitioners meet for breakfast and technical talks about the current state and future of software engineering. Today, my colleagues (Florian Stucki & Philipp Nützi) and I had the chance to present our information fragments tool, a prototype we developed in the past semester (HS13). The idea of the tool is that it aggregates data from various project data sources (from code, to work items, to people information) and visualizes the combination of the data to answer different stakeholders’ (developers, testers, managers, customers) questions in an intuitive web interface by visualizing the data in various ways. The tool can easily be extended with any other repository (that offers its data via web service), such as requirements, use cases, etc. For more information, please refer to the files here.

Observation Study in Vancouver/Seattle

I am currently in Vancouver (CA) and will soon leave for Seattle (US), where I got the big chance to run the context switches study for my master thesis.

In this study, we want to investigate the context switches and interruptions that developers experience in their workday and their impact on productivity. Therefore, we are observing developers in their workday by shadowing them and writing down the activities they work on and the switches/interruptions they encounter and perform in their work. After the observation session, we are conducting short interviews with the developers on these observations and the correlation between context switches and productivity, e.g., whether they think that certain switches/interruptions are particularly disruptive to their productivity, if they actively try to prevent interruptions and whether and when handling emails and meetings are decreasing productivity.

With the results of this study we hope to gain insights into the correlation between a developer’s activities, context switches and the felt productivity. Furthermore, we hope to be able to determine heuristics in how to automatically identify context switches and their impact on productivity.

The idea for this study stems from the results of a survey that we ran with approximately 350 software developers and that shows that many developers consider themselves more productive when they have few switches that interrupt their focus on a task.

Information Fragments

In my master project, two colleagues and I got the chance to develop a powerful web-application, using Asp.Net, Azure and TFS, to help the developer answer his daily questions using the information from multiple software repositories.

In a typical workday, developers have to answer several questions, such as “Who is working on what?” or “Which is the most popular class?”. Today’s tool support is limited, as we only found tools, where the usage was tedious and time consuming, where the user has to learn a new query language or where the license costs are very high. Besides this issue, there are enormous amounts of information a developer has to manage. A solution to increase the efficiency of answering everyday questions is needed to support the developer in keeping track with the growing complexity of the information. Fritz and Murphy developed a concept, information fragments, which compares and merges different data sets from different repositories using an id and text matching algorithm between the connections of these repositories. These nodes and edges are aggregated to a graph, the composed fragment, and presented to the user. We base our work on this approach and developed an extensible web application prototype that lets the user easily manipulate and filter the composed data by using an easy to understand abstraction of the model. Additionally, the data is represented using five different visualizations, each meaningful for different situations. The usefulness of the approach and its implementation was evaluated, using four usage scenarios. Finally, interesting directions for future work have been presented and discussed.

You may read our report here.

Extended Todos

During a course at the university (Human Aspects of Software Engineering, by Prof. Thomas Fritz), Claudio Anliker and I got the chance to develop a small application to help the developer in his daily tasks. Our result is a Visual Studio add-in that extends the representation and management of task annotations (=todos):


It is common practice that developers use task annotations in their code to improve its readability and the communication between team-members. Their fast creation makes them easy to forget, as there is usually no connection to a planning tool and only a limited view to manage them available. We introduce a new approach by connecting task annotations with an agile planning tool, improving their rep- resentation by adding contextual information and extending their default view. This approach aims to extend the very limited possibilities present in current modern IDEs such as Visual Studio, but also to keep the lightweight characteristics. An operability study and a small-scale evaluation shows the approach’s great potential, despite its prototype nature and many possibilities and ideas for future work.


You may read our report here.