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Knewton Code Swarm: Data Visualization

Posted in Knerds on December 10, 2012 by

At Knewton, we like to experiment with data visualizations. The above visualization shows the history of developer contributions to the Knewton Adaptive Learning Platform (Post Git). Contributions are measured in “commits” which occur whenever a developer alters the code and transfers the changes into our central git repository. Each file in a commit is represented by a colored-coded blob which indicates the type of file committed. Each time a developer commits a file, the algorithm brings the file closer to the user’s blob; this proximity reflects the associativity between code files and users as well as the relationships among users themselves. The histogram at the bottom displays the frequency of commits over time.

This visualization can also be referred to as a “code swarm”, and is an example of “organic information visualization” (a phrase coined by Ben Fry), that is, any data visualization that allows the elements to interact in a dynamic and unpredictable fashion. The benefit of such a visualization is that it brings the relationships between different project components into relief. The viewer can also observe the evolution of a project over time.