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Mon 14 - Fri 18 November 2022 Singapore

This paper reports on qualitative research into automatic program repair (APR) at Bloomberg. Six focus groups were conducted with a total of seventeen participants (including both developers of the APR tool and developers using the tool) to consider: the development at Bloomberg of a prototype APR tool (Fixie); developers’ early experiences using the tool; and developers’ perspectives on
how they would like to interact with the tool in future. APR is developing rapidly and it is important to understand in greater detail developers' experiences using this emerging technology. In this paper, we provide in-depth, qualitative data from an industrial setting. We found that the development of APR at Bloomberg had become increasingly user-centered, emphasising how fixes were presented to developers, as well as particular features, such as customisability. From the focus groups with developers who had used Fixie, we found particular concern with the pragmatic aspects of APR, such as how and when fixes were presented to them. Based on our findings, we make a series of recommendations to inform future APR development, highlighting how APR tools should 'start small', be customisable, and fit with developers' workflows. We also suggest that APR tools should capitalise on the promise of repair bots and draw on advances in explainable AI.