Virtual Reality in Software Engineering: Affordances, Applications, and Challenges

Author(s): Anthony Elliott, Brian Peiris, Chris Parnin
Venue: International Conference on Software Engineering
Date: May 2015

Type of Experiement: Case Study
Sample Size: 1
Class/Experience Level: Professional
Participant Selection: internal participants
Data Collection Method: Project Artifact(s)


This paper talks about how virtual reality can be used to enhance the software development experience. The researchers explore the experience VR has to offer that is not available with current development environments such as spatial cognition, manipulation/motion, and feedback.

The team created prototypes that tried to highlight these benefits that VR has by using various tools already available. Using Riftsketch, developers are able to write code and get almost immediate feedback with the VR headset. This in conjunction with a Leap Motion further lets the user interact with motion by using gesture to manipulate numbers in the code and get the feedback on the resulting change. The final affordance talked about is on spatial reasoning specifically for code reviews. Reviewers are able to move around the code-base and interact with the different packages and files. The researchers then developed use cases to see how effective their prototype could handle certain situations.

The paper concludes with open questions that are still up for debate such as if VR is too much immersion compared to AR and the limitations of text entry with gaming controllers. Then ends discussing the challenges facing this problem still such as the separation from everyone else in VR and how not all software problems have a direct mapping into a 3D representation.