Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Gary F. Pollice, Reader

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

George T. Heineman, Advisor


Matthew O. Ward




Complex software systems are difficult to understand and very hard to debug. Programmers trying to understand or debug these systems must read through source code which may span over thousands of files. Software Visualization tries to ease this burden by using graphics and animation to convey important information about the program to the user, which may be used either for understanding the behavior of the program or for detecting any defects within the code. SoftViz is one such software visualization system, developed by Ben Kurtz under the guidance of Prof. George T. Heineman at WPI. We carry forward the work initiated with SoftViz. Our preliminary study showed various avenues for making the system more effective and user-friendly. Specifically I completed the unfinished work, made optimizations, implemented new functionality and added new visualization plug-ins, all aimed at making the system a more versatile and user-friendly debugging framework. We built a solid core functionality that would be able to support various functionalities and created new plug-ins that would make understanding and bug-detection easier. Further we integrated SoftViz with the Eclipse development environment, making the system easily accessible and potentially widely used. We created an error classification framework relating the common error classes and the visualizations that could be used to detect them. We believe this will be helpful in both selecting the right visualization options as well as constructing new plug-ins.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Computer Science

Project Type


Date Accepted





Eclipse plug-in, Tracer, Timeline, Software Visualization, Sunburst, SoftViz, ParaVis, Error Categorization Framework, Debugging, Program Understanding, Debugging in computer science, Software engineering, Visualization