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Chapter 1


1.1 The Problem

This thesis is concerned with developing and using a framework for the evaluation and description of Software Visualization (SV) systems. SV is the process of using techniques such as typography, graphic design, animation and cinematography to provide representations of a program and its execution. Though a great deal of research effort is being devoted to SV development, SVs are still not widely used in practise, either by professional programmers or computer programming teachers. Price et al. (1991) suggest an important reason why the technology has not been readily taken up is because its benefits have not been demonstrated. The research reported here aims to tackle this problem by developing and applying an empirical methodology able to collect the kind of data necessary for the results to be confidently interpreted in way which is grounded within the psychology of programming literature.

The rest of this chapter will provide an overview of the main concepts covered in this thesis. The next two sections will define what is meant by SV and introduce the Prolog programming language. Following on from this, two of the Prolog SVs to be considered in this thesis will be presented. The final two sections state the case for evaluation and provide a thesis outline.