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The City Metaphor in Software Visualization: Feelings, Emotions, and Thinking

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author RomanoSimone, CapeceNicola, ErraUgo, ScannielloGiuseppe, LanzaMichele,
Project Exploratory Visual Analytics for Interaction Graphs
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Multimedia Tools and Applications
Volume (Issue) 78(23)
Page(s) 33113 - 33149
Title of proceedings Multimedia Tools and Applications
DOI 10.1007/s11042-019-07748-1

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Software visualization is a program comprehension technique used in the context of software maintenance, reverse engineering, and software evolution analysis. In the last decade, researchers have been exploring 3D representations for visualizing programs. Among these representations, one of the most popular is the city metaphor, which represents a target program as a city. Recently, this metaphor has been also implemented in interactive software visualization tools using Virtual Reality (VR) in an immersive 3D environment medium. We report the results of a study to assess the city metaphor implemented in a VR-based tool and in a 3D-based tool with respect to users’ feelings, emotions, and thinking. To this end, we contrasted these tools with a non-visual exploration tool (i.e., Eclipse). The main result of our study is: the use of the city metaphor implemented in a VR-based tool positively affects users’ feelings and emotions, while the thinking about this implementation is positive and comparable with that of a traditional 3D implementation of the city metaphor and it is slightly better than the thinking about a non-visual exploration tool (i.e., Eclipse).