Exploring an unfamiliar large-scale software system is challenging especially when based solely on source code. While software visualizations help in gaining an overview of a system, they generally neglect architecture knowledge in their representations, e.g., by arranging elements along package structures rather than functional components or locking users in a specific abstraction level only slightly above the source code. In this paper, we introduce an automated approach for software architecture recovery and use its results in an immersive 3D virtual reality software visualization to aid accessing and relating architecture knowledge. We further provide a semantic zoom that allows a user to access and relate information both horizontally on the same abstraction level, e.g., by following method calls, and vertically across different abstraction levels, e.g., from a member to its parent class. We evaluate our contribution in a controlled experiment contrasting the usefulness regarding software exploration and comprehension of our concepts with those of the established CityVR visualization and the Eclipse IDE.
- Software Visualization
- Virtual Reality
- Software Architecture Recovery
- Empirical Software Engineering