A (fork of a) slick visualization for your source code
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code_swarm is an experiment in organic software visualization.

See http://vis.cs.ucdavis.edu/~ogawa/codeswarm for a picture of what we want to produce.

Google Code Project : http://code.google.com/p/codeswarm/ Google Group/Mailing List: http://groups.google.com/group/codeswarm



You will need Apache's "ant" build tool, at least version 5 of the Java SDK from Sun, and for some features, Python version 2.4 or later. Linux users: we've been unable to get code_swarm to run under the GNU jvm, Sun's jvm is strongly recommended.


These instructions were tested with Ubuntu 8.04, the process is probably similar to other linux distributions.

This should ensure that ant and java6 are installed and configured:

sudo apt-get install ant 
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jdk 
sudo update-java-alternatives -s java-6-sun 

You should also ensure that Python is installed.


  • download ant for all platforms at http://ant.apache.org/bindownload.cgi

  • unpack it where you want it to be installed, and add the location of its binaries to the the PATH environment variable. For instance, add at the end : C:\apache-ant-1.7.0\bin;

  • download Sun Java SDK at http://java.sun.com/javase/downloads/index.jsp

  • install it and add the "javac" Java compiler to the PATH : C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.6.0_06\bin;

  • then create a new environment variable called JAVA_HOME and set its path to C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.6.0_06;

  • download and install Python from http://www.python.org/download/


Recent versions of OS X come with a good java compiler and Python interpreter, so all you need to do is get and install Apache ant.

If you have DarwinPorts/MacPorts, you can simply: sudo port install apache-ant

Getting the source code


A git fork of the main code_swarm repository is maintained at http://github.com/rictic/code_swarm/tree/master

This fork contains a number of patches which improve the speed of code_swarm significantly, as well as the code_swarm executable, which makes visualizing a new project on Linux and the Mac a one-step process.

To obtain a clone of the repository, simply use:

git clone git://github.com/rictic/code_swarm.git


code_swarm's source code is on a Google Code Subversion repository (svn) : http://codeswarm.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/

See Subversion homepage at http://subversion.tigris.org/ for all appropriate tools and documents. I would recommend TortoiseSVN for Windows users. Unix-like users would get their native "Subversion" package.

For more information, see http://code.google.com/p/codeswarm/source/checkout

Running code_swarm

With Java and ant installed, and the code_swarm source downloaded, running it on a git, svn, or hg based project is easy:

  • Add code_swarm/bin to your PATH. A line like export PATH=$PATH:/path/to/code_swarm/bin in your ~/.profile or ~/.bash_profile should do it
  • cd project/to/visualize
  • code_swarm

Other ways of running code_swarm

There are a couple of other ways of invoking code_swarm. For an experimental GUI where you can specify a svn url to visualize:

  • cd path/to/code_swarm
  • ant run

While code_swarm was developed to visualize source code repositories, its input format is generic, and some have experimented with visualizing other collaborative environments, including user activity on wikis and freebase.com.

code_swarm can be invoked by pointing it at a project config file, which contains a number of options for customizing the visualization. The config file must point at a repository xml file, which contains a set of events, which each describe a file, edited by a person, at a specific time. The time is specified as the number of milliseconds since January 1st, 1970.

Example config files can be seen in data/sample.config and bin/config.template

To invoke code_swarm with a given config file, use ./run.sh path/to/project.config

Other commands:

  • ant will build, but not run the project
  • ant all will also generate Javadoc HTML documentation
  • ant clean will delete all intermediate and binary files