Usability Smells: An Analysis of Developers’ Struggle With Crypto Libraries

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Green and Smith propose ten principles to make cryptography libraries more usable, but to what extent do the libraries implement these principles? We undertook a thematic analysis of over 2400 questions and responses from developers seeking help with 7 cryptography libraries on Stack Overflow; analyzing them to identify 16 underlying usability issues and studying see how prevalent they were across the 3 cryptography libraries for which we had the most questions for on Stack Overflow. Mapping our usability issues to Green and Smith’s usability principles we identify 4 usability smells where the principles are not being observed. We suggest what developers may struggle the most with in the cryptography libraries, and where significant usability gains may be had for developers working to make libraries more usable.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Fifteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security
PublisherUSENIX Association
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2019
EventUSENIX Security Symposium 2019 - Santa Clara, United States
Duration: 11 Aug 201916 Aug 2019
Conference number: 28


ConferenceUSENIX Security Symposium 2019
Abbreviated titleUSENIX Security '19
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySanta Clara
Internet address

Structured keywords

  • Cyber Security
  • usability
  • API
  • software engineering


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