NavTracks : helping developers navigate source code




Elves, Robert

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Software systems can be very complex, tasking the developer's ability to keep a consistent mental model. Software systems are often comprised of many lines of code and scattered across many different files, all located within a complex hierarchical file system. This hierarchy must be navigated when adding new functionality or refactoring existing designs. Due to this complexity, developers can easily become disoriented and lost within software systems. For this reason, better tools for source code navigation are required. In this work we present NavTracks, a tool that supports navigating through software systems. NavTracks keeps track of the navigation history of software developers, forming associations between related files. These associations are then used as the basis for recommending potentially related files as a developer navigates the software system. We begin with a brief survey of current tools for navigation in electronic environments. This is followed by a discussion of the design, implementation and evaluation of NavTracks. We finish with proposed future work.



source code, computer software, development