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An Engineering Perspective on Writing Assistants for Productivity and Creative Code

(2023) (to appear)


Software developers write code nearly everyday, ranging from simple straightforward tasks to challenging and creative tasks. As we have seen across domains, AI/ML based assistants are on the rise in the field of computer science. We refer to them as code generation tools or AI/ML enhanced software developing tooling; and it is changing the way developers write code. As we think about how to design and measure the impact of intelligent writing assistants, the approaches used in software engineering and the considerations unique to writing code can provide a different and complementary perspective for the workshop. In this paper, we propose a focus on two themes: (1) measuring the impact of writing assistants and (2) how code writing assistants are changing the way engineers write code. In our discussion of these topics, we outline approaches used in software engineering, considerations unique to writing code, and how the disciplines of prose writing and code writing can learn from each other. We aim to contribute to the development of a taxonomy of writing assistants that includes possible methods of measurement and considers factors unique to the domain (e.g. prose or code).