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New Project: Hamburg Open Online University


We proudly announce that our group will contribute to the development of the Hamburg Open Online University (HOOU) – an innovative higher-education initiative of Hamburg.

Initiated by Hamburg’s First Mayor Olaf Scholz and its Senate Chancellery, the HOOU project is a cooperation between the federal state government, the authority of science and research (BWF), Multimedia Kontor Hamburg (MMKH), and the six public universities in our city-state. The overall goals are to foster the digitization of the higher education, to open-up knowledge sharing and educational resources, and to provide an innovative, scalable and usable online platform for teaching and learning across the universities. HOOU will target not only  university students but also everyone interested in education and knowledge. Within this project, MOBIS is researching and developing innovative approaches such as “Learning Analytics and Recommendation”, “Problem- and Project- based learning”, “Mobile Learning” and “Continuous Quality Assurance”.

Additional press releases and articles (German):

Patterns of Knowledge in API Reference Documentation


“Patterns of Knowledge in API Reference Documentation” is the title of the new paper by Prof. Maalej and Prof. Robillard, which has been recently accepted for publication at the renowned journal IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering.


Walid Maalej and Martin P. Robillard


Reading reference documentation is an important part of programming with APIs. Reference documentation complements the API by providing information not obvious from the API syntax. To improve the quality of reference documentation and the efficiency with which the relevant information it contains can be accessed, we must first understand its content. We report on a study of the nature and organization of knowledge contained in the reference documentation of the hundreds of APIs provided as part of two major technology platforms: Java SDK 6 and .NET 4.0. Our study involved the development of a taxonomy of knowledge types based on grounded methods and independent empirical validation. Seventeen trained coders used the taxonomy to rate a total of 5574 randomly-sampled documentation units to assess the knowledge they contain. Our results provide a comprehensive perspective on the patterns of knowledge in API documentation: observations about the types of knowledge it contains, and how this knowledge is distributed throughout the documentation. The taxonomy and patterns of knowledge we present in this paper can be used to help practitioners evaluate the content of their API documentation, better organize their documentation, and limit the amount of low-value content. They also provides a vocabulary that can help structure and facilitate discussions about the content of APIs. 


Visit the Projects Website

Download the Full Version (pdf)*

*This is the authors’ version of the work. The final formal version should be accessed via IEEE DL and might slightly differ from this preprint version

Prof. Robillard visit


From April 16th to April 26 Prof. Martin P. Robillard from McGill University (CA) is visiting our chair to continue our research collaboration on software documentation and recommendation systems, which has been highly productive so far. We are very glad to have him with us.

During his visit Martin will give 2 talks:

  • The first talk will be on Recommendation Systems for API Usage on  Monday, April 22, 2013, 17:15 as part of the UHH Informatik Kolloquium (open to public).
  • The second talk will be on Conducting Empirical Evaluation in Software Engineering Research on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 14:00 as part of MOBIS doctoral seminar (closed).

Martin Robillard is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at McGill University. He is the recipient of four ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Awards and currently holds an NSERC Discovery Accelerator Award. He recently served as the Program Co-Chair for the 20th ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering, and is currently serving on the editorial boards of the IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering and Empirical Software Engineering.