Designing knowledge-base tools for program comprehension: A comparison of EDATS & IMCA

Norman Wilde, Suzanne Dietrich, Frank W. Calliss

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Since software engineers spend a large proportion of their time trying to understand computer programs, many tools have been proposed to help them with this task. The construction of such tools raises a series of specification and design issues and requires a careful choice among alternative user interfaces, tool architectures, and knowledge representations. This paper discusses the information needs of software engineers and describes and compares two such tools, the Extensible Dependency Analysis Tool Set (EDATS) and the Inter-Module Code Analysis system (IMCA). A case study is presented showing how each tool would be used to support typical program comprehension tasks. Though the two tools have quite similar objectives, their designs are radically different, leading to interesting contrasts in flexibility and ease of use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-716
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Software Engineering and Knowledge Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1996


  • Knowledge bases
  • Program understanding
  • Software maintenance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Artificial Intelligence


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