Making Movies to Watch Software Evolve via Visualization

Software developers quite often require understanding software and how it has evolved. One way to do this is to create movies of how the software evolves over time by visualizing and analysing source control revision histories. An essay by Mark Mahoney (SPLASH/Onward! 2009) explored this idea, Software Evolution and the Moving Picture Metaphor.

The basic fundamental of the Moving Picture Metaphor is

animation is the key to telling a story

and the central theme of the essay is that

good moving pictures have the advantage of being easily digestible and they require less time and effort to consume than reading.

An earlier paper (2001) Making Movies: Watching Software Evolve through Visualisation by Cain and McCrindle developed the Visual Class Multiple Lens (VCML) which builds up a visualization over time based on software commits. They illustrate this technique with a word cloud of the different classes that are used in a piece of software and the size of the name of the class increases or decreases over time.

An interesting research project would be to conduct empirical user studies to find out how effective software evolution visualization movies help developers understand software over existing practices.

Some tools which support the Moving Picture Metaphor include:

About Craig Anslow

Craig Anslow is a Lecturer in Software Engineering at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, with research interests in software visualization.
This entry was posted in Research and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Making Movies to Watch Software Evolve via Visualization

    • Craig Anslow says:

      Cool! Gource was done by a friend of mine Andrew Caudwell and is a nice visualization tool. Hopefully you and your team got some benefit from using this tool.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s