Debugger Canvas: Industrial Experience with the Code Bubbles Paradigm

Kael Rowan, Robert DeLine, Andrew Bragdon, and Jens Jacobsen


At ICSE 2010, the Code Bubbles team from

Brown University and the Code Canvas team from Microsoft

Research presented similar ideas for new user experiences for

an integrated development environment. Since then, the two

teams formed a collaboration, along with the Microsoft Visual

Studio team, to release Debugger Canvas, an industrial version

of the Code Bubbles paradigm. With Debugger Canvas, a

programmer debugs her code as a collection of code bubbles,

annotated with call paths and variable values, on a twodimensional

pan-and-zoom surface. In this experience report,

we describe new user interface ideas, describe the rationale

behind our design choices, evaluate the performance overhead

of the new design, and provide user feedback based on lab

participants, post-release usage data, and a user survey and

interviews. We conclude that the code bubbles paradigm does

scale to existing customer code bases, is best implemented as a

mode in the existing user experience rather than a replacement,

and is most useful when the user has a long or complex

call paths, a large or unfamiliar code base, or complex control

patterns, like factories or dynamic linking.


Publication typeInproceedings
PublisherInternational Conference on Software Engineering
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