Program comprehension has been researched extensively ever since software systems became complex and longer than a few hundred code lines. At the same time, the way in which people comprehend visual models of software systems has received much less attention. This paper focuses on the comprehension of UML diagrams. During the research presented in this paper, data was gathered from the work of two groups. Group 1 consisted of 13 senior computer science students who worked in five teams. The students were asked to trace and analyze the process by which they retrieved information from UML diagrams of a given system. Group 2 consisted of 42 senior computer science students who were requested to complete a questionnaire in which they were asked to rank different types of UML diagrams according to their importance. The section on data analysis discusses strategies adopted by the novices in their attempt to reveal the meaning of a set of UML diagrams, as well as their attitudes towards the different diagrams. One of the interesting observations is that although each team had its own preferences with respect to the usefulness of each specific type of diagrams, the overall use of each diagram type is very similar across the teams.
ASJC Scopus subject areas