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Spike – A code editor plugin highlighting fine-grained changes

Art der Publikation: Beitrag in Sammelwerk

Spike – A code editor plugin highlighting fine-grained changes

Escobar, Ronald; Sandoval Alcocer, Juan Pablo; Tarner, Hagen; Beck, Fabian; Bergel, Alexandre
Titel des Sammelbands:
Working Conference on Software Visualization (VISSOFT)
Limassol, Cyprus
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
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Information about source code changes is important for many software development activities. As such, modern IDEs, including,  \emph{IntelliJ IDEA} and \emph{Visual Studio Code}, show visual clues within the code editor that highlight lines that have been changed since the last synchronization with the code repository. However, the granularity of the change information is limited to a line level, showing mainly a small colored icon on the left side of the lines that have been added, deleted, or modified.

This paper introduces Spike, a source code highlighting plugin that uses the font color to visually encode fine-grained version difference information within the code editor. In contrast to previously mentioned tools, Spike can highlight insertions, deletions, updates, and refactorings all in a same line. Our plugin also enriches the source code with small icons that allow retrieving detailed information about a given code change. We perform an exploratory user study with five professional software engineers. Our results show that our approach is able to assist practitioners with complex comprehension tasks about software history within the code editor.