One of the reasons I’m interested in the Eclipse4Edu project is that it is heavily based on user experience. The goal is to create a streamlined IDE for beginners so that they can immediately focus on learning the language and concepts instead of struggling with an environment. Eventually, a novice can move to a classic Eclipse environment while maintaining a sense of familiarity.
One could argue that a beginner could start with the standard Eclipse environment and just ignore the ‘advanced’ features. But minimizing complexity in user interfaces can go a long way.
The challenge is putting yourself in the shoes of a beginner so that you can understand which components are too ‘complex’. Many of the people contributing to the Eclipse4Edu project are far removed from their days as beginners that it can be difficult to gain that perspective. In comparison, as a 4th year student I’m hardly an expert, but I’m also finding it hard to recall my first programming experiences.
So how can I get around this? Well, I’m designing a questionnaire/survey that will be distributed to students taking first year programming at Carleton University. Hopefully the feedback will provide the Eclipse4Edu community with some insight and lead to new features and a better product overall.