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GrammaTech Widens "Visual Views" Into Source Code Complexities


Source-code analysis company GrammaTech has launched a software architecture visualization system integrated with CodeSonar, the firm's static-analysis tool for detecting defects.

The product aims to break some new ground by providing a strong interface for "visually viewing" the relationships between software program elements, a feature that arguably comes into greater focus as large software systems shouldering complex processing tasks over big data sets becomes more prevalent.

Real-time fluid transitions are available for developers to visualize massive data sets to work at different levels of abstraction. The software makes extensive use of the GPU 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 they can take a bottom-up approach if that is more appropriate to the task," he added, presumably after drawing breath!

CodeSonar visualization displays the program's call graph organized according to the module structure of the program. 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 supports annotations and sharing of diagrams between team members. Users can start at individual functions to gain insight from a bottom-up perspective, annotate nodes and edges with additional information, and overlay the visualization with information on defects and source-code metrics such as complexity.

Other features include the ability of users to search the graph for functions of interest, view the graph in a variety of different layouts, and navigate to and from the source code of the program. The architecture is extensible, so users can generate graphs from other sources, feed them in an XML format to the tool, and see them in the same user interface.

Essentially then, CodeSonar is a static-analysis tool that performs whole-program interprocedural analysis on C/C++ code. In doing this, it seeks to identify complex programming bugs that can result in system crashes, memory corruption, concurrency errors, and other serious problems.


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