Software for Conducting Behavorial Studies in Java
Abstract Experiment Tool is an environment for conducting behavioral studies. Mostly, I use AETool for eye-tracking studies. With AETool, you can create experiments, add and edit participants, and work with stimuli.
About two years ago, I developed VETool, using Java and the NetBeans Platform. It is a tool that is helpful in the visualization of the source code reading process. Source code was annotated with ELAN, which provides the possibility to draw nice diagrams with JavaFX in VETool. Results and insights of VETool were presented at the Eye Movements in Programming Workshop 2013 and published in Eye Tracking in Computing Education.
For more specific tasks, coming out of behavioral experiments, I have built a new branch of this tool. As a starting point, I have taken the VETool and extended its functionality in the direction of stimuli presentation software. The NetBeans Platform gives me helpful possibilities to modify VETool for my studies. Abstract Experiment Tool is one such modification.
Abstract Experiment Tool (AETool) is an environment for conducting behavioral studies. Mostly, I use AETool for eye-tracking studies. With AETool, you can create experiments, add and edit participants, and work with stimuli (see Figure 1).
Experiment and Participant modules are basically quite stabile from study to study. I modify the Stimuli module especially for each study or just add a new one. For example, in one study we needed to present a text based task (like a source code) on one screen and then we need to render an input type text element for user’s answer (see Figure 2). Here is a short video of using AETool with text based tasks in combination with a separate gaze-contingent environment, ScreenMasker (https://github.com/PaulOrlov/ScreenMasker).
In a second study, we had to use stimulus with pictures (Sankey diagrams) and radio buttons. Figure 3 shows the stimulus editing process. In Figure 4 you can see how our user sees the stimuli during the running of the experiment.
More interestingly, AETool communicates with SMI eye-tracking systems. AETool sends UDP packages to the iViewX server to divide stimuli’s trials from each other. In this case, eye-tracking data can be analyzed easily. In a second scenario, I use the eye-tracker communication for developing gaze-contingent stimuli. In such stimuli, the user can interact with the environment by his gaze. It looks like magic, users like gaze-contingent interaction and the NetBeans Platform is useful for gaze-contingent development as well. :)
AETool is open source under GLP 2: https://github.com/PaulOrlov/AETool
All my studies with AETool were done at UEF (University of Eastern Finland School of Computing) and SPbSTU (St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University Department of Engineering Graphics and Design).