A Colorful Approach to Text Processing by Example

Abstract

Text processing, tedious and error-prone even for programmers, remains one of the most alluring targets of Programming by Example. An examination of real-world text processing tasks found on help forums reveals that many such tasks, beyond simple string manipulation, involve latent hierarchical structures.

We design STEPS, a programming system for processing structured and semi-structured text by example. STEPS users create and manipulate hierarchical structure by example. In a between-subject user study on fourteen computer scientists, STEPS compares favorably to traditional programming.