The documentary structure of source code

Michael L Van De Vanter
2002 Information and Software Technology  
Many tools designed to help programmers view and manipulate source code exploit the formal structure of the programming language. Language-based tools use information derived via linguistic analysis to offer services that are impractical for purely text-based tools. In order to be effective, however, language-based tools must be designed to account properly for the documentary structure of source code: a structure that is largely orthogonal to the linguistic but no less important. Documentary
more » ... ructure includes, in addition to the language text, all extralingual information added by programmers for the sole purpose of aiding the human reader: comments, white space, and choice of names. Largely ignored in the research literature, documentary structure occupies a central role in the practice of programming. An examination of the documentary structure of programs leads to a better understanding of requirements for tool architectures. q
doi:10.1016/s0950-5849(02)00103-9 fatcat:2q7o6xykeffotewf3vncko2lai