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Evaluation of graphical elements and their adequacy for the visualization of software architectures

: Naab, M.
: Rombach, H.D.; Muthig, D.; Knodel, J.; Forster, T.

Kaiserslautern, 2005, X, 147 pp. : Ill., Lit.
Kaiserslautern, TU, Dipl.-Arb., 2005
Fraunhofer IESE ()
software architecture; evaluation; visualization; Eclipse

Software architecture is one of the most crucial artifacts in the life cycle of a software system. As it has major impact on the functional and quality properties of a software system being developed, it is important to ensure the quality of the architecture. One instrument for quality assurance is software architecture evaluation as supported be the SAVE (Software Architecture Visualization and Evaluation) tool. The SAVE tool was developed at the Fraunhofer IESE. It aims at an integrated evaluation and visualization approach for software architectures and has been successfully applied in industrial projects with large-scale software systems.
This thesis had the goal to develop a new visualization component with state-of-the-art graphical elements. Furthermore, shortcomings with respect to functionality, performance, and usability were addressed. The realized SAVE visualization component is an extensible and configurable platform for graphical elements directed towards the visualization of software architectures. The main design drivers were a comprehensive visualization and the reduction of the visual complexity.
The SAVE visualization component was validated in three ways. First it was checked whether the new visualization component offers the same functionality as the one replaced. Then several case studies were conducted, which showed the ability to handle large-scale software systems with appropriate performance. The visualization component already presented its adequacy as being successfully applied for industrial systems. Finally in an experiment was explored, how users perceive the visualization component in general and the graphical elements in particular. The major result of this experiment was that a well-configured visualization can improve the comprehensibility of a software system and the visual complexity can be reduced.