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Visualising software as a particle system

Scarle, Simon; Walkinshaw, Neil

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Simon Scarle
Senior Lecturer in Games Technology

Neil Walkinshaw


Current metrics-based approaches to visualise unfamiliar software systems face two key limitations: (1) They are limited in terms of the number of dimensions that can be projected, and (2) they use fixed layout algorithms where the resulting positions of entities can be vulnerable to misinterpretation. In this paper we show how computer games technology can be used to address these problems. We present the PhysVis software exploration system, where software metrics can be variably mapped to parameters of a physical model and displayed via a particle system. Entities can be imbued with attributes such as mass, gravity, and (for relationships) strength or springiness, alongside traditional attributes such as position, colour and size. The resulting visualisation is a dynamic scene; the relative positions of entities are not determined by a fixed layout algorithm, but by intuitive physical notions such as gravity, mass, and drag. The implementation is openly available, and we evaluate it on a selection of visualisation tasks for two openly-available software systems.


Scarle, S., & Walkinshaw, N. (2015, September). Visualising software as a particle system. Presented at VISSOFT 2015, Bremen, Germany

Presentation Conference Type Lecture
Conference Name VISSOFT 2015
Conference Location Bremen, Germany
Start Date Sep 27, 2015
End Date Sep 28, 2015
Publication Date Sep 27, 2015
Deposit Date Aug 21, 2015
Publicly Available Date Mar 15, 2016
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords software visualisation, particle system
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Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : © 2015 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission from IEEE must be obtained for all other uses, in any current or future media, including reprinting/republishing this material for advertising or promotional purposes, creating new collective works, for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or reuse of any copyrighted component of this work in other works.
Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : VISSOFT 2015


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