Collaborative Reengineering and Modularization of Software Systems

Software systems evolve over their lifetime. Changing requirements make it inevitable for developers to modify and extend the underlying code base. Specific requirements emerge in the context of open source software where everybody can contribute and requirements can change over time. In particular, research software is often not structured with a maintainable and extensible architecture. Furthermore, often databases are employed for retrieving, storing, and processing application data. Insufficient knowledge of the actual structure and behavior of such software systems and related databases can entail further challenges. Thus, understanding these software systems embodies a crucial task, which needs to be addressed in an appropriate way to face inevitable challenges while performing software changes. Approaches based on alternative display and interaction concepts can support this task by offering a more immersive user experience. In this thesis, we introduce three complementary approaches to support the evolution and particularly understanding of software systems in different aspects. Our main contributions are (i) an approach named CORAL for enabling collaborative reengineering and modularization of software systems, (ii) a gesture-based, collaborative, and multi-user-featuring Virtual Reality approach named ExplorViz VR for the software city metaphor, and (iii) a database behavior live-visualization approach named RACCOON for database comprehension of software systems. An extensive case study shows that our CORAL approach is capable of supporting reengineering and modularization processes. Furthermore, several lab experiments demonstrate the high usability, and efficiency and effectiveness for solving comprehension tasks when using the visualization within our multi-user VR approach ExplorViz VR. All implementations are available as open-source software on Additionally, we provide an extensive experimental package of our latest VR evaluation to facilitate the verifiability and reproducibility of our results.


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