Collaborative SourceMiner

Collaboration is an important issue for software comprehension activities which are performed in distributed development environments. Several studies have pointed to the relevance of visualization to provide support to these activities. Enriching visual metaphors with awareness elements can enhance collaboration in such environments.

The Collaborative SourceMiner is a collaborative version of SourceMiner. It combines the use of a multiple view interactive environment with collaboration elements such as chat and bullets that inform which parts of the software have been analyzed by each programmer.

The goal is to enhance software comprehension in distributed development, for this reason we use the term collaborative software comprehension.

The main goal is to enable programmers from the same group to collaborate in a shared workspace and hence obtain knowledge to perform software comprehension activities. The conceptual model has as its start point the scenario illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1

According to the figure, programmers perform software comprehension activities in different places. In the figure, the circle illustrates programmers accessing the source code (triangle) using the IDE (square). Considering this situation, we can conclude that collaboration occurs using resources (for example, chat on line) that are not integrated into the IDE. This scenario does not necessarily explore the potentiality of visual resources to support software comprehension activities. Moreover, a considerable cognitive effort will be needed due to the fact that the collaboration resources are not integrated into the IDE. This situation can also hinder convergence to perform a collaborative software comprehension.

Based on the scenario illustrated in Figure 1, we present the Figure 2 with the proposed conceptual model for collaborative software comprehension. The difference between Figure 1 and the part A of Figure 2 is that the IDE now has the Collaborative SourceMiner plug-in, represented by the red circle in the Figure 2. Moreover, the visual resources provided by the Collaborative SourceMiner have the goal to support awareness in a distributed software development. The views are enriched by awareness elements to enhance communication, coordination and cooperation.

Figure 2

The fact that the representation of a set of entities is highlighted by awareness elements does not necessarily imply that these entities are relevant. These awareness elements are an initial suggestion of what should be analyzed by the group. For this end, the group can use the shared workspace to discuss and converge to the set of entities that are really of interest to the task at hand.

The combined use of multiple views enriched by awareness elements is conveyed in the part B of the Figure 2. Each view is represented by a colored circle (V1 to V8, for example). These views when used together and combined aim at providing features of a multiple view interactive environment (MVIE).

The video below shows the system messaging funcionality.

The video below shows the user messaging funcionality.




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