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SPViz: A DSL-Driven Approach for Software Project Visualization Tooling

Niklas RentzReinhard von Hanxleden
Jan 2024
For most service architectures, such as OSGi and Spring, architecture-specific tools allow software developers and architects to visualize otherwise obscure configurations hidden in the project files. Such visualization tools are often used for documentation purposes and help to better understand programs than with source code alone. However, such tools often do not address project-specific peculiarities or do not exist at all for less common architectures, requiring developers to use different visualization and analysis tools within the same architecture. Furthermore, many generic modeling tools and architecture visualization tools require their users to create and maintain models manually. We here propose a DSL-driven approach that allows software architects to define and adapt their own project visualization tool. The approach, which we refer to as Software Project Visualization (SPViz), uses two DSLs, one to describe architectural elements and their relationships, and one to describe how these should be visualized. We demonstrate how SPViz can then automatically synthesize a customized, project-specific visualization tool that can adapt to changes in the underlying project automatically. We implemented our approach in an open-source library, also termed SPViz and discuss and analyze four different tools that follow this concept, including open-source projects and projects from an industrial partner in the railway domain.
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