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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Presenting crosscutting structure with active models Coelho, Wesley


When performing development tasks, such as modifications and debugging, developers must often understand and manipulate source code that crosscuts a software system's structure. These tasks are made more difficult by limitations of the two approaches currently used to present crosscutting structure: tree views and structure diagrams. Tree views force the developer to manually synthesize information from multiple views; structure diagrams quickly suffer from graphical complexity. We introduce an active model as a means of presenting the right information about the crosscutting structure to a developer at the right time. An active model is produced as a result of three operations—projection, expansion, and abstraction. Combined with particular user interaction features during display,' these operations enable a view of the model to be presented to the developer without suffering from the complexity of existing approaches. We have implemented an active model tool, called ActiveAspect, for presenting crosscutting structure described by AspectJ aspects. We report on the results of a case study in which the tool was used effectively by two subjects to implement a modification task to a non-trivial AspectJ system.

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