Understanding user engagement with multi-representational license comprehension interfaces

Mahugnon Olivier Avande, Robin A. Gandhi, Harvey Siy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


License information for any non-trivial open-source software demonstrates the growing complexity of compliance management. Studies have shown that understanding open-source licenses is difficult. Prior research has not examined how developers would use interfaces displaying license text and its graphical models in studying a license. Consequently, a repeatable eye tracking-based methodology was developed to study user engagement when exploring open-source rights and obligations in a multi-modal fashion. Experiences of 10 participants in an exploratory case study design indicate that eye-tracking is feasible to quantitatively and qualitatively observe distinct interaction patterns in the use of license comprehension interfaces. A low correlation was observed between self-reported usability survey data and eye-tracking data. Conversely, a high correlation between eye-tracker and mouse data suggests the use of either in future studies. This paper provides a framework to conduct such studies as an alternative to surveys while offering interesting hypotheses for future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-45
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Open Source Software and Processes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Comprehension
  • Eye-Tracking
  • License
  • Multi-Representation Interface
  • Open-Source

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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