Printable Version of this PageHome PageRecent ChangesSearchSign In

Computer Science Education for End-User Programmers


Recent estimates for the number of end-user programmers indicate this population is over four times larger than the community of professional programmers. Web developers using active server pages, accountants using spreadsheets, and CAD designers using AutoCAD are just a few example domains where end-user programming has become commonplace. Recently, native scripting capabilities have become integrated with media manipulation tools like Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, and Blender. Such new support for end-user programming creates many opportunities for researchers. My dissertation work studies how and why media professionals, like graphic designers, learn to script. I focus on what they know about computer science, how they learned it, and how we can build tools that support newcomers in learning Computer Science content informally.

In the Spring of 2006 we surveyed users of 2D graphic design tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, and GIMP to gain a sense for the makeup of this population of end user programmers. Basic survey data and a paper published at ICER 2006 on the results can be found below.

In the Fall of 2007 we conducted a content analysis of Photoshop scripts hosted on the Adobe Exchange forum. We noted high use of many computing constructs (e.g., for-loops, if-statements, function definition) but relatively low adoption of higher-order abstractions (e.g., object creation, code modules). A paper discussing these results appeared at VL/HCC 2007 and can be found below.

In the Summer of 2009 we conducted a dual study of graphic and web designers in the Atlanta area. Participants repeatedly sorted cards containing introductory computing concepts to elicit their knowledge of these topics. They were also interviewed about their practice and how they go about learning new things. Papers summarizing the results of this study are currently under review—check back in the future for more details.

Primary Investigators


B. Dorn and M. Guzdial. Learning on the Web: A Case Study of Graphic Design End-User Programmers. Presented at End-User Programming for the Web Workshop at CHI '09, 2009. [PDF]

B. Dorn, A. E. Tew, and M. Guzdial. Computer Science construct use, learning, and creative credit in a graphic design community. Technical Report GT-IC-08-01, Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Interactive Computing, Atlanta, GA, 2008.

B. Dorn, A. E. Tew, and M. Guzdial. Introductory computing construct use in an end-user programming community. In VL/HCC'07: Proceedings of the 2007 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing, to appear. [PDF]

B. Dorn and M. Guzdial. Graphic designers who program as informal computer science learners. In ICER '06: Proceedings of the 2nd International Computing Education Research Workshop, pages 127-134, 2006. [PDF]


This project is funded in part by the NSF Science of Design program, grant number ITR-0613738.

Other Data

Spring 2006 survey of image manipulators - surveySummary.pdf

Last modified 16 September 2009 at 8:33 am by dorn