Extending the Usability of WebTA with Unified ASTs and Errors

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Computer Science; Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences; Department of Engineering Fundamentals


Expanding autocritiquers to other languages requires the difficult task of obtaining and representing antipat-terns. Under the current framework, each language requires a unique Abstract Syntax Tree (AST) and error solution such that both the resulting AST and error summaries can be searched and presented to students. Often similar antipatterns arise that have to be rewritten in each language's own context. This paper proposes the creation of a generalized AST structure for an auto-critiquer under development, that can unify common code structures across similar languages while capturing differences in the languages. This work also proposes a standard for error message representation that can capture similar errors across language specific error messages. There are two motivations to standardizing AST and error message formats. Firstly, our solution allows for a standardized User Interface (UI) and easy integration of new languages with an identical on-boarding process for both professors and students. Secondly, reuse of antipatterns will allow us to skip the time-consuming step of constructing near-identical structural and logical antipattern queries as well as unifying novice based error feedback.

Publication Title

Proceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE