Architecture visualization system scales to millions of lines of code

March 29, 2012 // By Julien Happich
Provider of source-code analysis tools, GrammaTech unveiled a next-generation software architecture visualization system that incorporates a sophisticated new interface for viewing the relationships between software program elements.

The system is integrated with CodeSonar, GrammaTech's static-analysis tool for detecting defects. The growing complexity of large software systems makes it more difficult for developers to test and analyze the interrelationships between elements of source code. CodeSonar visualization is designed to optimize visual inspection and analysis of software. It offers real-time, fluid transitions for developers to visualize massive data sets to work at different levels of abstraction. The software makes extensive use of the graphics processing unit (GPU), is very high performance and can handle very large code bases (10M+ lines of code).

“Typically, text editors show just a few dozen lines of code at a time. Currently available visualization tools are effective at displaying small-scale parts of the program structure such as fragments of class hierarchies and subsets of the call graph, but it is infeasible to use those tools to show whole-program structures. Even for small projects, such tools become unusable because of complexity and performance,” said Paul Anderson, VP of Engineering at GrammaTech. “CodeSonar’s new program-visualization capability was specifically designed to perform well on millions of lines of code. It presents data in a layered fashion, so users can choose to see only the information appropriate to the desired level of abstraction. Users can explore the program in a top-down fashion, starting with the outermost high-level modules and zooming in to reveal detail at a finer granularity; or can take a bottom-up approach if that is more appropriate to the task.”

CodeSonar visualization displays the program’s call graph organized according to the module structure of the program. Graph layouts can be changed in real time and present data in tree, map, circuit, cluster, flow, radial and other layouts. Data is featured in a layered way that provides a high-level view with drill-down capability; users can explore the program from the bottom up as well.

CodeSonar visualization also includes other program understanding and navigation features, and supports