Functions are essential building blocks of information retrieval and information management. However, efforts implementing these functions are fragmented: one function has multiple implementations, within specific development contexts. This inhibits reuse: metadata of functions and associated implementations need to be found across various search interfaces, and implementation integration requires human interpretation and manual adjustments. An approach is needed, independent of development context and enabling description and exploration of functions and (automatic) instantiation of associated implementations. In this paper, after collecting scenarios and deriving corresponding requirements, we (i) propose an approach that facilitates functions’ description, publication, and exploration by modeling and publishing abstract function descriptions and their links to concrete implementations; and (ii) enable implementations’ automatic instantiation by exploiting those published descriptions. This way, we can link to existing implementations, and provide a uniform detailed search interface across development contexts. The proposed model (the Function Ontology) and the publication method following the Linked Data principles using standards, are deemed sufficient for this task, and are extensible to new development contexts. The proposed set of tools (the Function Hub and Function Handler) are shown to fulfill the collected requirements, and the user evaluation proves them being perceived as a valuable asset during software retrieval. Our work thus improves developer experience for function exploration and implementation instantiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946-959
Number of pages14
JournalFuture Generation Computer Systems
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

ID: 49097327