Awareness of others’ activities has been widely recognized as essential in facilitating coordination in a team among Computer-Supported Cooperative Work communities. Several field studies on software developers in large software companies such as Microsoft showed that coworker and artifact awareness are the most common information needs for software developers; however, they are also the most frequently unsatisfied information needs. As a result, they may duplicate work, or create conflicts without knowing the status of others and the whole project.
To address this problem, we propose a new approach to visualize the developer’s activities using a 3-D city metaphor and implement it in a workspace awareness tool named TeamWATCH (Team based Workspace Awareness Toolkit and Collaboration Hub). TeamWATCH extracts awareness information of artifacts, revisions, and developers from their local workspaces, version control repository, and bug tracking system. It then visualizes both real time and history awareness information together in a 3-D common view shared by the whole team. It also highlights active artifacts that are being changed locally via eye-catching animations and provides the customized personal view for each developer.
The main contributions of this dissertation are 1) a 3-D software visualization scheme that improves workspace awareness and enhances team collaboration; 2) the design and implementation of the workspace awareness tool TeamWATCH using this visualization scheme; and 3) evaluations of the effectiveness of such awareness tools using TeamWATCH as an example in maintaining project awareness and detecting and resolving conflicts via three controlled use experiments. The experiment results showed that the subjects using TeamWATCH performed significantly better in software revision history and project evolution comprehension, and early conflict detection and resolution.