The Effect of Automatic Code Generation on Developer Job Satisfaction

Cullum, Stephen (2007). The Effect of Automatic Code Generation on Developer Job Satisfaction. Student dissertation for The Open University module M801 MSc in Software Development Research Dissertation.

Please note that this student dissertation is made available in the format that it was submitted for examination, thus the author has not been able to correct errors and/or departures from academic standards in areas such as referencing.



The aim of this paper is to determine the impact of code generation tools on the productivity of software developers, verifying whether the purported benefits exist and are sustainable long term. These software artefacts are capable of producing applications with minimal software developer involvement, potentially saving companies many hours of effort whilst enforcing a common approach. Productivity is defined as both performance and the psychological components that comprise enjoyment within a role. Performance factors are used to monitor how much faster processes become when using a code generator, whilst enjoyment defines the longevity of the approach. The Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS) (Hackman and Oldham, 1980) is an instrument designed to evaluate the effects of job changes on employees by focusing on a set of task orientated motivational characteristics. The JDS evaluates the effects of work redesign on satisfaction within the work context. Hackman and Oldham’s work focuses on generic roles and therefore requires extension to record information pertinent to software development. To record information about the code generator the instrument was extended in two ways: · Questions were added to focus on the role of software development; · Answers were no longer simply quantitative, but could also be rated on a qualitative basis in terms of performance and enjoyment. Code generator technologies were found to have an impact on productivity. Enjoyment and performance are linked via the enforced structure necessary for automation. In terms of performance the influence was highly positive. For enjoyment the results were mixed. Positive enjoyment issues do exist and are more numerous than the negative ones. However, negative enjoyment issues have the potential to cause significant conflict within any group of individuals. In conclusion, code generators are not a panacea. To acquire the productivity benefits that are associated with code generation the right people and supporting culture are essential.

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