CASI: preventing indirect conflicts through a live visualization


Software development is a collaborative activity that may lead to conflicts when changes are performed in parallel by several developers. Direct conflicts arise when multiple developers make changes in the same source code entity, and indirect conflicts are produced when multiple developers make changes to source code entities that depend on each other. Previous approaches of code analysis either cannot predict all kinds of indirect conflicts, since they can be caused by syntactic or semantic changes, or they produce so much information as to make them virtually useless. Workspace awareness techniques have been proposed to enhance software configuration management systems by providing developers with information about the activity that is being performed by other developers. Most workspace awareness tools detect direct conflicts while only some of them warn about potential indirect conflicts. We propose a new approach to the problem of indirect conflicts. Our tool CASI informs developers of the changes that are taking place in a software project and the source code entities influenced by them. We visualize this influence together with directionality and severity information to help developers decide whether a concrete situation represents an indirect conflict. We introduce our approach, explain its implementation, discuss its behavior on an example, and lay out several steps that we will be taking to improve it in the future.

Proceedings of the 2010 ICSE Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering