Helping Users Debug Trigger-Action Programs.

Proc. ACM Interact. Mob. Wearable Ubiquitous Technol.(2022)

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Trigger-action programming (TAP) empowers a wide array of users to automate Internet of Things (IoT) devices. However, it can be challenging for users to create completely correct trigger-action programs (TAPs) on the first try, necessitating debugging. While TAP has received substantial research attention, TAP debugging has not. In this paper, we present the first empirical study of users' end-to-end TAP debugging process, focusing on obstacles users face in debugging TAPs and how well users ultimately fix incorrect automations. To enable this study, we added TAP capabilities to an existing 3-D smart home simulator. Thirty remote participants spent a total of 84 hours debugging TAPs using this simulator. Without additional support, participants were often unable to fix buggy TAPs due to a series of obstacles we document. However, we also found that two novel tools we developed helped participants overcome many of these obstacles and more successfully debug TAPs. These tools collect either implicit or explicit feedback from users about automations that should or should not have happened in the past, using a SAT-solving-based algorithm we developed to automatically modify the TAPs to account for this feedback.
Trigger-action programming,end-user programming,end-user debugging,smart environment,symbolic reasoning,IoT,Internet of Things,IFTTT
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