Picasso Ate My Metrics Paper: Visualizing Software Metrics with Treemaps

This past semester, one of the classes I took was a class about Software Metrics.  I was required to write a paper, so I wrote about visualizing software metrics.  All in all, it was a pretty intense semester.  I’ve been settling on a masters thesis topic, which you can read a little about in my previous post.  I’ve written lots of Processing code and been reading through Edward Tufte’s books.  I attended his seminar and gave my own seminar, at work, about Data Visualization.

I guess my artistic side broke through this past semester and demanded my full attention.  Reading through my posts, you would never know that there was a time in my life when I did lots of painting and drawing.  The painting below is a reproduction of a Picasso I painted for my mom during this period.  Last week, I finally broke down and ordered the Adobe Design Premium suite which includes illustrator and Flash.  Yay for educational discounts!


This semester has been all about my artistic impulses and my obsession with technology having a full-on, stay-awake-late, grab-the-bull-by-the-paintbrush collision.  The days when I was writing about visualization and software for job, school and pleasure all at the same time made me smile and think, “it’s good to be me today.”  I know that most people don’t get even 1 day of that and it means that I am finally, after 9 years of higher education, going the right way with my studies.

I’m posting my paper here.  It seemed prudent, before delving into research on visualizing test data, to see what was already out there.  What I found was an emphasis on craziness, a disregard for human-computer interaction and any principles of data visualization.  The glaring exception was the body of work on Treemaps.  If you look at the references of the original paper on Treemaps (I can’t post it because of ACM), you will find a reference to The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.  For this reason, I’ve pretty much stuck with Treemaps in my research.

Are treemaps useful for visualizing the quality of a software system?  I will be working over the next few months to answer that question, and smiling a lot in the process.

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