Social Spaces Group

CodeSaw

Contact:
Eric Gilbert

Abstract:
CodeSaw is a social visualization of distributed software development. CodeSaw visualizes a distributed software community from two important and independent perspectives: code repositories and project communication. By bringing together both shared artifacts (code) and the talk surrounding those artifacts (project mail), CodeSaw reveals group dynamics that lie buried in existing technologies. A design lesson from our field study led us to introduce a novel interaction technique for social visualization called spatial messaging, which allows users to converse inside the visualization itself.

Motivation:
Open source software development operates quite differently than traditional software development. Developers do not meet face to face. There are few schedules. In all but the most prominent projects, there is no plan. Developers choose what they work on and how much time they spend working on it. We are just starting to learn what drives these communities.

At the same time, many open source communities also represent vibrant online social spaces. Developers have heated emailed exchanges on the project mailing list about feature additions. Legal issues concerning software licensing get vigorously discussed. Code is checked out, checked in and reviewed by community leaders in cycles of iterative development. The code and email archives left behind tell the story.

Yet, for the most part, projects leave these archives untapped. CodeSaw combines code repository information with project communication to visualize a software community from two independent perspectives. By bringing together both shared artifacts (code) and the talk surrounding those artifacts (project mail), CodeSaw reveals group dynamics that lie buried in existing technologies.

Screenshot:



Downloads:
Eric Gilbert and Karrie Karahalios. CodeSaw: A Social Visualization of Distributed Software Development. Proceedings of Interact 2007.

Eric Gilbert and Karrie Karahalios. LifeSource: Two CVS Visualizations. Extended Abstracts of CHI 2006.