Visualization of Inheritance Relationships Using Glyphs

Noritaka OSAWA

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E85-D    No.1    pp.275-282
Publication Date: 2002/01/01
Online ISSN: 
Print ISSN: 0916-8532
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Computer Graphics
glyph,  abstract icon,  inheritance relationship,  object-orientation,  hierarchy,  

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This paper describes glyph representation, that is, shape representation of inheritance relationships between a superclass and subclasses in an object-oriented programming language. The inheritance relationships in object-oriented programming languages are usually represented in a visual programming environment by a diagram of a tree graph or a nested structure. That diagram is not integrated with a code view showing control and data flows. Using the proposed representation, one can understand the inheritance relationships of classes and the assignment compatibility or type conformance just by seeing the glyphs. One thus does not need to look at a hierarchy diagram in order to recognize them. The inheritance relationships are represented by inclusion relationships of glyphs. Methods for generating suitable glyphs from a class hierarchy are also described, as is a prototype system for glyph generation. Experiments using the Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE), which has more than 1,500 classes, show that one can recognize inheritance relationships in the proposed representation faster than in the usual textual representation. Consequently the proposed representation can facilitate the understanding of inheritance in visual object-oriented programming environments.