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To make program comprehension more effective, the analyst needs high-level information about the software under investigation, in particular information at the structure and the design levels. Visualization in contexts allows the analyst to investigate software in terms of various contexts at different levels of abstraction and to form a variety of mental models of the software at hand. Moreover, the analyst can mentally integrate disparate mental models by cross-referencing. In this paper, the visualization in contexts strategy is introduced. Then, the Context Viewer, a prototype tool supporting the strategy within the SPOOL reverse engineering environment, is detailed. Three usage scenarios illustrate the approach. The scenarios, complemented by an informal evaluation and comparison, suggest the usefulness of the tool and the underlying strategy.
Date of Conference: 2002