November 17 – 22 , 2019, Dagstuhl Seminar 19471

BOTse: Bots in Software Engineering


James D. Herbsleb (Carnegie Mellon University – Pittsburgh, US)
Carolyn Penstein Rosé (Carnegie Mellon University – Pittsburgh, US)
Alexander Serebrenik (TU Eindhoven, NL)
Margaret-Anne Storey (University of Victoria, CA)
Thomas Zimmermann (Microsoft Corporation – Redmond, US)

For support, please contact

Dagmar Hofmann for administrative matters

Shida Kunz for scientific matters


List of Participants
Shared Documents


Bots, often called chatbots, are computer programs that provide a conversational style interface for interacting with software services. Bots are found in many domains such as shopping, entertainment, education, and personal productivity. In software development, bots are rapidly becoming a de facto interface for developers and end users to interact with software services in a myriad of ways: e.g., bots are used to fetch or share information, extract and analyze data, detect and monitor events and activities in communication and social media, connect developers with key stakeholders or with other tools, and provide feedback and recommendations on individual and collaborative tasks.

Through this Dagstuhl Seminar, we hope to gain important insights on how bots may be disrupting collaborative software development and to develop an understanding of how bots, and the conversational UI, may play a prominent role in practice. The research that has been conducted so far is rather preliminary with most of existing papers appearing in just the past year or two showing a recent awareness that this topic is important. Meanwhile, practitioners can refer to several books or blog posts, but these resources tend to be focused on how to design bots, with less attention given to understanding the impact they may have on development processes, software quality, and on end users.

Our seminar would bring researchers and practitioners together from across diverse domains to understand how bots are used today, how they could be used in innovative ways in the future, how the use of bots can be compared and synthesized, and to identify and share risks and challenges that may emerge from using bots in practice.

Specifically, we will

  • develop a research agenda with such objectives as raising awareness of how bots may positively or negatively impact software engineering, analyzing and reflecting on existing bots that are used in software engineering and in other domains to form a framework that can be used to characterize and define bots,
  • develop theories that capture or predict the impact bots may have on software engineering projects,
  • explore and discuss which research methods should be used to study the impact of bots in laboratory settings and also in industry,
  • develop new innovations and leverage existing technologies that can improve the design of bots,
  • and create an interdisciplinary community of researchers that will together care about and understand how bots can be effectively used in software engineering and in our research.

During the seminar, participants will present how bots are used in practice (hearing from both practitioners and researchers that have studied their use), and how to innovate new interaction and technical paradigms and use cases for bots in SE. The presentations will be augmented by breakout sessions to brainstorm answers to some of the questions related to bots and their impact. Concurrently to the above activities, we also plan to host a “Build a bot” hands on activity leading to a specific bot (or ideas for a platform) that we will use during the seminar to guide our discussions.

Motivation text license
  Creative Commons BY 3.0 DE
  James D. Herbsleb, Carolyn Penstein Rosé, Alexander Serebrenik, Margaret-Anne Storey, and Thomas Zimmermann


  • Society / Human-computer Interaction
  • Software Engineering


  • Software engineering
  • Bots
  • Chatbots
  • Automated software development
  • Collaborative software development
  • DevOps
  • CSCW
  • NLP


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