Preparing Software Re-Engineering via Freehand Sketches in Virtual Reality

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


Re-architecting a software system requires significant preparation, e.g., to scope and design new modules with their boundaries and constituent classes. When planning an intended future state of a system as a re-engineering goal, engineers often fall recur to mechanisms such as freehand sketching (using a whiteboard). While this ensures flexibility and expressiveness, the sketches remain disconnected from the source code. The alternative, tool-supported diagramming on the other hand considerably restricts flexibility and impedes free-form communication.
We present a method for preparing the architectural software re-engineering via freehand sketches in virtual reality (VR) that can be seamlessly integrated with the model structure of a software visualization and, thus, also the code of a system, for productive use: Engineers explore a subject system in the immersive visualization, while freehand sketching their insights and plans. Our concept automatically interprets sketched shapes and connects them to the system’s source code, and superimposes code-level references into a sketch to support engineers in reflecting on their sketches.
We evaluated our method in an iterative interview-based case study with software developers from four different companies, where they planned a hypothetical re-engineering of an opensource software system.
Video Demonstration —
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication39th IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution : ICSME 2023
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Software Re-Engineering
  • Software Visualization
  • Whiteboard Sketching
  • Reflexion Models
  • Virtual Reality


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