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On the Impact of the Medium in the Effectiveness of {3D} Software Visualization

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Proceedings (peer-reviewed)
Author Merino Leonel, Fuchs Johannes, Blumenschein Michael, Anslow Craig, Ghafari Mohammad, Nierstrasz Oscar, Behrisch Michael, Keim Daniel,
Project Agile Software Analysis
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Proceedings (peer-reviewed)

Page(s) 11 - 21
Title of proceedings {VISSOFT}'17: Proceedings of the 5th IEEE Working Conference on Software Visualization
DOI 10.1109/vissoft.2017.17

Open Access

Type of Open Access Website


Many visualizations have proven to be effective in supporting various software related tasks. Although multiple media can be used to display a visualization, the standard computer screen is used the most. We hypothesize that the medium has a role in their effectiveness. We investigate our hypotheses by conducting a controlled user experiment. In the experiment we focus on the 3D city visualization technique used for software comprehension tasks. We deploy 3D city visualizations across a standard computer screen (SCS), an immersive 3D environment (I3D), and a physical 3D printed model (P3D). We asked twenty-seven participants (whom we divided in three groups for each medium) to visualize software systems of various sizes, solve a set of uniform comprehension tasks, and complete a questionnaire. We measured the effectiveness of visualizations in terms of performance, recollection, and user experience. We found that even though developers using P3D required the least time to identify outliers, they perceived the least difficulty when visualizing systems based on SCS. Moreover, developers using I3D obtained the highest recollection.