Using Visualizations to Analyze Workspace Activity and Discern Software Project Evolution

R. M. Ripley, A. Sarma, and A. van der Hoek. Using visualizations to analyze workspace activity and discern software project evolution. ISR Technical Report UCI-ISR-06-1, University of California, Irvine, California, USA, 2006. [pdf]


In this paper, the authors presented a prototype of a 3D visualization for workspace activity. This visualization shows only active workspaces and artifacts and depicts activities as changes to artifacts. Each change to an artifact is denoted as a cylinder and stacks of such cylinders represent activities in a particular workspace (developer-centric) or activities carried on specific artifact (artifact-centric). They applied the visualization to several open-source projects and demonstrated pro ject evolution and other interesting situations.

The visualization has two primary modes: developer-centric and artifact-centric, which we will discuss shortly. Common to both modes, the visualization shows only active artifacts and workspaces, thereby eliminating the clutter of inactive entities. Stacks of cylinders represent workspace activities

(changes to artifacts), with each cylinder corresponding to a particular artifact in a particular workspace with the dimensions representing the size of the change (the bigger the change, the larger the cylinder).

In the developer-centric view (see the figure, inset), a stack of cylinders represents a developer’s workspace with each cylinder representing an artifact being changed in that workspace. Workspaces with many activities correspond to tall stacks of cylinders. The stacks of cylinders with the most recent changes are placed in the front of the view and, as time elapses, stacks for workspaces with “older” activity slowly start moving to the back, representing dormancy. Thereby a user is able to quickly discern the loci of activities from the height of the stacks and recency of these activities from their position. The artifact-centric view (see the figure, bottom) behaves similarly to the developer view, but instead each stack of cylinders represents a particular artifact and each cylinder in the stack represents changes to that artifact made by a particular workspace.


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