Immersive Software Archaeology: Exploring Software Architecture and Design in Virtual Reality

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Comprehending large-scale software systems is a challenging and daunting task, particularly when only source code is available. While software visualization attempts to aid that process, existing tools primarily visualize a system’s structure in terms of files, folders, packages, or namespaces, neglecting its logical decomposition into cohesive architectural components.

We present the tool Immersive Software Archaeology (ISA) which (i) estimates a view of a system’s architecture by utilizing concepts from software architecture recovery and (ii) visualizes the results in virtual reality (VR) so that users can explore a subject system interactively, making the process more engaging. In VR, a semantic zoom lets users gradually transition between architectural components of different granularity and class-level elements while relationship graphs let users navigate along connections across classes and architectural components.

We present results from a controlled experiment with 54 participants to investigate the usefulness of ISA for assisting engineers with exploring an unfamiliar large-scale system compared to another state-of-the-art VR approach and an IDE.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Software Analysis, Evolution and Reengineering (SANER) 2024
Publication date12 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2024


  • Software Visualization
  • Software Architecture Visualization
  • Software Comprehension
  • Software Re-Engineering


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