Simultaneous Visual Analysis of Multiple Software Hierarchies
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2018 IEEE Working Conference on Software Visualization (VISSOFT), Seite 87-95. (September 2018)

We propose a tree visualization technique for comparison of structures and attributes across multiple hierarchies. Many software systems are structured hierarchically by design. For example, developers subdivide source code into libraries, modules, and functions. This design propagates to software configuration and business processes, rendering software hierarchies even more important. Often these structural elements are attributed with reference counts, code quality metrics, and the like. Throughout the entire software life cycle, these hierarchies are reviewed, integrated, debugged, and changed many times by different people so that the identity of a structural element and its attributes is not clearly traceable. We argue that pairwise comparison of similar trees is a tedious task due to the lack of overview, especially when applied to a large number of hierarchies. Therefore, we strive to visualize multiple similar trees as a whole by merging them into one supertree. To merge structures and combine attributes from different trees, we leverage the Jaccard similarity and solve a matching problem while keeping track of the origin of a structure element and its attributes. Our visualization approach allows users to inspect these supertrees using node-link diagrams and indented tree plots. The nodes in these plots depict aggregated attributes and, using word-sized line plots, detailed data. We demonstrate the usefulness of our method by exploring the evolution of software repositories and debugging data processing pipelines using provenance data.

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