Visual Debugging Aids for Eclipse


Modern integrated development environments (IDEs) like Eclipse, NetBeans and Visual Studio, come with advanced debugging facilities that help the developer finding bugs in the program by stepping throughout the source code, watching the values of the variables and setting several types of breakpoints. However, these tools do not give insight into the past states of the program.

There have been some plugins for some IDEs that aim to support debugging using information visualization.
JIVE is a framework that helps in debugging Java programs by interactively visualizing diagrams similar to the object- and sequence UML diagrams. Though JIVE gives access to a large amount of information about the program execution and its history, but it is not well-suited for real-world software systems that contain thousands of classes, not only due to the overhead it imposes for maintaining the historical state of the whole program, but also, since the presented diagrams will be overloaded with a large number of information.


To develop scalable visual debugging aids for the Eclipse IDE. Two debugging aids are investigated:

  • Visual Tracing: here, all the values a variable has taken in the course of the program will be recorded and presented over a time-line, with the ability to compare the values of different variables over time and inspect these values in detail.
  • Visualizing Large Arrays: instead of viewing the values in an array in an expandable indented list, we thought of more usable views such as a tabular view, and histograms and barcharts, and a line view.

Other information: 

Screenshots from the developed Eclipse plugins:

Visual Tracing Plugin



Array Visualization Plugin:

Previous knowledge: 
Java. Optional: Eclipse plugin development
Assigned as: 

Bilal Alsallakh, by appointment, alsallakh [at]


Peter Bodesinsky
Alex Gruber
Dorna Nasseri

Project page: 
Visual Debugging
Information Visualization (IV)