Change Awareness in 2-D Graphical Development Tools
how people can rapidly recognize what has changed in a shared 2-D graphical workspace

People working in a group projects often find it difficult to keep with the changes that have been made since the last time that it was viewed, especially if the projects are large and constantly changing. Not only does a person have to keep up with what changes have occurred, they might also have to determine if these changes are relevant to them and if so how they will deal with these changes. Our interest is developing user interfaces that let people rapidly recognize what has changed.

Using a UML editor as a case study, we developed several designs that communicate change information:

  • Replaying of changes - you see the changes that have occurred to the project in the form of animated replays.
  • A chronological story board of changes - this is a time-line or history that documents the changes that have been made to the project. For each change that is made to the project a static picture is created that shows the change occurring.
  • Conic representations of changes - for each type of change, a different symbol is used to represent the change that occurred. This is illustrated below.
  • Documentation describing changes - changes are described in a summarized textual form.

Primary Investigators

James Tam (Graduate Student)
Saul Greenberg (Supervisor)
Frank Maurer (Supervisor)

Current Status (Winter 2000)

We have conducted a usability study to evaluate different prototypes, and are using the results to influence our system design.

Key Papers

  • Tam, J., McCaffrey, L, Maurer, F. and Greenberg, S. (2000) Change Awareness in Software Engineering Using Two Dimensional Graphical Design and Development Tools. Report 2000-670-22, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, October. [Pdf]