Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 5-2016


K. J. North. Sonifying git history. Master’s thesis, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 2016.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Computer Science, Under the Supervision of Professors Myra B. Cohen and Anita Sarma. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2016

Copyright (c) 2016 Kevin J. North


Version control is a technique that software developers use in industry to manage their source code artifacts. One benefit of using version control is that it produces a history of every change made to a codebase, which developers frequently analyze in order to aid the software development process. However, version control history contains highly multidimensional and temporal data. State of the art techniques can show several of these dimensions, but they cannot show a large number of dimensions simultaneously without becoming difficult to understand. An alternative technique to understand temporal data with high dimensionality is sonification. Sonification maps information to sound.

In this thesis we propose the use of earcons and parameter mapping sonification to show version control history. Using sonification, we can show more dimensions of version history simultaneously than other state of the art techniques. Our first technique, GitSonifier, uses only sonification to portray version history and historical conflict data. A user study shows that developers can easily understand the sonification, but we also find limitations where visualization may be preferred. Our second technique, GitVS, uses a combination of both visualization and sonification to overcome these limitations.

Advisors: Myra B. Cohen and Anita Sarma