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Embedding Spatial Software Visualization in the IDE: an Exploratory Study

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Proceedings (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2010
Author Kuhn Adrian, Erni David, Nierstrasz Oscar,
Project Synchronizing Models and Code
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Proceedings (peer-reviewed)

Title of proceedings SOFTVIS 2010
DOI 10.1145/1879211.1879229

Open Access


Software visualization can be of great use for understanding and exploring a software system in an intuitive manner. Spatial representation of software is a promising approach of increasing interest. However, little is known about how developers interact with spatial visualizations that are embedded in the IDE. In this paper, we present a pilot study that explores the use of Software Cartography for program comprehension of an unknown system. We investigated whether developers establish a spatial memory of the system, whether clustering by topic offers a sound base layout, and how developers interact with maps. We report our results in the form of observations, hypotheses, and implications. Key findings are a) that developers made good use of the map to inspect search results and call graphs, and b) that developers found the base layout surprising and often confusing. We conclude with concrete advice for the design of embedded software maps