Domain-Centered Support for Layout, Tasks, and Specification for Control Flow Graph Visualization

Sabin Devkota, Matthew P. Legendre, Adam Kunen, Pascal Aschwanden, Katherine E. Isaacs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Computing professionals in areas like compilers, performance analysis, and security often analyze and manipulate control flow graphs (CFGs) in their work. CFGs are directed networks that describe possible orderings of instructions in the execution of a program. Visualizing a CFG is a common activity in developing or debugging computational approaches that use them. However, general graph drawing layouts, including the hierarchical ones frequently applied to CFGs, do not capture CFG-specific structures or tasks and thus the resulting drawing may not match the needs of their audience, especially for more complicated programs. While several algorithms offer flexibility in specifying the layout, they often require expertise with graph drawing layouts and primitives that these potential users do not have. To bring domain-specific CFG drawing to this audience, we develop CFGConf, a library designed to match the abstraction level of CFG experts. CFGConf provides a JSON interface that produces drawings that can stand-alone or be integrated into multi-view visualization systems. We developed CFGConf through an interactive design process with experts while incorporating lessons learned from previous CFG visualization systems, a survey of CFG drawing conventions in computing systems conferences, and existing design principles for notations. We evaluate CFGConf in terms of expressiveness, usability, and notational efficiency through a user study and illustrative examples. CFG experts were able to use the library to produce the domain-aware layouts and appreciated the task-aware nature of the specification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2022 Working Conference on Software Visualization, VISSOFT 2022
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Pages40-50
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781665480925
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes
Event2022 Working Conference on Software Visualization, VISSOFT 2022 - Limassol, Cyprus
Duration: Oct 2 2022Oct 7 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings - 2022 Working Conference on Software Visualization, VISSOFT 2022

Conference

Conference2022 Working Conference on Software Visualization, VISSOFT 2022
Country/TerritoryCyprus
CityLimassol
Period10/2/2210/7/22

Keywords

  • control flow graphs
  • graph drawing
  • human-centered computing
  • visualization systems and tools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Media Technology

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