Solving real problems without reading code

Developers are data scientists. Or at least, they should be.

50% of the development time is typically spent on figuring out the system in order to figure out what to do next. In other words, software engineering is primarily a decision making business. Add to that the fact that often systems contain millions of lines of code and even more data, and you get an environment in which decisions have to be made quickly about lots of ever moving data.

Yet, too often, developers drill into the see of data manually with only rudimentary tool support. Yes, rudimentary. The syntax highlighting and basic code navigation are nice, but they only count when looking into fine details. This approach does not scale for understanding larger pieces and it should not perpetuate.

This might sound as if it is not for everyone, but consider this: when a developer sets out to figure out something in a database with million rows, she will write a query first; yet, when the same developer sets out to figure out something in a system with a million lines of code, she will start reading. Why are these similar problems approached so differently: one time tool-based and one time through manual inspection? And if reading is such a great tool, why do we even consider queries at all? The root problem does not come from the basic skills. They exist already. The main problem is the perception of what software engineering is, and of what engineering tools should look like.

In this talk, we show live examples of how software engineering decisions can be made quickly and accurately by building custom analysis tools that enable browsing, visualizing or measuring code and data. All shown examples make use of the Moose analysis platform (

Here is a sample presentation.