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Exploring source code history is an important task for software maintenance. Traditionally, source code history is navigated on the granularity of individual files. This is not fine-grained enough to support users in exploring the evolution of indi- vidual code elements. We suggest to consider the history of individual elements within the tree structure inherent to source code. A history graph created from these trees then enables new ways to explore events of interest defined by structural changes in the source code. We present Tree Flow, a visual- ization of these structural changes designed to enable users to choose the appropriate level of detail for the task at hand. In a user study, we show that both Chronicler and the history aware timeline, two prototype systems combining history graph nav- igation with a traditional source code view, outperform the more traditional history navigation on a file basis and users strongly prefer Chronicler for the exploration of source code.

The Team

Chronicler are a cooperative research project by Moritz Wittenhagen, Christian Cherek, Jan Borchers from the Media Computing Group. It is funded in part through the German B-IT Foundation.



  • Moritz Wittenhagen, Christian Cherek and Jan Borchers. Chronicler: Interactive Exploration of Source Code History.  In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pages 3522–3532,May 2016.
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If you have further questions regarding Chroicler or the developed software prototypes, feel free to contact Christian Cherek for more information about the project.

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