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.
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.
If you have further questions regarding Chroicler or the developed software prototypes, feel free to contact Christian Cherek for more information about the project.