3D Visualization of Complex Software Models: Practical use and Limitations
Model Driven Development is becoming a popular methodology when developing large software systems. 3D visualizations has been proposed as an aid for the developers trying to comprehend large amounts of complex diagrams present in model driven development. But how effective is it in practice, and how will it scale when applied on large complex system? The purpose of this study is to validate if 3D visualization increases comprehensibility of large, complex diagrams and to explore what limitations there are to the technique. A tool that can visualize diagrams was constructed and validated through a technical validation and a qualitative interview study at Ericsson AB. The results show that 3D aids the user to get a better understanding of the structure and component relationships of the diagrams, something that is a highly complex task when using the present 2D tools. The 3D visualization makes it more intuitive for the user to see how different parts in the model relate to each other. The study also shows that 3D has potential to be used as an alternative to the file tree-browser present in most modeling tools: the user can find diagram parts easier, see interconnections and navigate faster between different sections of the model. Several limitations that are needed to be solved before the technique can be put in to use in production were identified and these include issues relating to information overload and problems distinguishing relationships between hierarchies.
Report/Department of Applied Information Technology