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Technology Transfer Award for Computer Scientists at Freie Universität

Software Engineering Group Recognized for New Methods in Software Development

№ 264/2014 from Jul 09, 2014

The Software Engineering Group of the Institute of Computer Science at Freie Universität Berlin won the Ready-Set-Transfer (RST) competition of the International Conference on Software Development (ICSE) for creating a new method of software development. The competition, which was held for the first time, focused on software technologies that could soon be used in industry. The group led by the computer science professor Lutz Prechelt developed Agile Offshoring, which makes it easier for multiple development teams to work together to program software and to communicate with each other, despite great physical distances.

The new development is related to distributed pair programming, a type of division of labor common in software development, whereby two programmers work together on a screen. While one programmer writes the code, the other colleague thinks about the problem, controls the code while it is still being typed, and immediately addresses issues that occur to him or her. This procedure is intended to prevent programming errors and improve the quality of the software. With distributed pair programming, software enables this team work to be done on separate computers and in different locations. "Without pair programming the communication difficulties are so difficult that frequently only one side understands the requirements of the planned software," says Lutz Prechelt. Up to now there was no solution to this problem.

The Agile Offshoring developed by scientists at Freie Universität is intended to prevent misunderstandings and to increase the willingness of both involved teams to really communicate enough with each other. The innovation is that this additional communication takes place directly at the technical level of programming and not in separate project meetings. "Communication can become more concrete and more effective," says Prechelt. To implement this idea technically, the Software Engineering Group has been working on developing a programming tool since 2006. The tool is called "Saros" and, according to the developers, is reliable and convenient in supporting distributed pair programming.

The outcome of the RST competition was decided by a jury of three persons, all representatives of industry from India, Brazil, and the United States. The participants were required to present their product idea and demonstrate that their development is suitable for immediate use in industry.

Further Information

Prof. Dr. Lutz Prechelt, Institute of Computer Science, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-75115, Email: prechelt@inf.fu-berlin.de