One of the great challenges in 3D software visualization is to identify a familiar visual metaphor so that the navigation in the software becomes natural and easy. In fact, the whole idea is not to invent an exotic virtual world in which the user is lost, hence not providing any improvement in system understanding over flat representations, but to exploit the user´s common sense knowledge about familiar contexts. Indeed, the user is able to reason by analogy while navigating such a software representation. Our previious experiments in the context of the EvoSpaces project have demonstrated the power of the chosen "Software City" metaphor for a 3D representation of software. Moreover it adapts naturally to the representation of dynamic information (the actual behavior of the system while being executed). However, the true assessment can only come from its actual use for real maintenance tasks applied on large industrial software systems where comprehension is a key challenge.
The project will be along four axes: