A guide through the swamp – The CrapMap

Locate your crappy methods quickly with this treemap visualization tool for Crap4J report data.

One of the most useful metrics to us in the Softwareschneiderei is “CRAP”. For java, it is calculated by the Crap4J tool and provided as an HTML report. The report gives you a rough idea whats going on in your project, but to really know what’s up, you need to look closer.

A closer look on crap

The Crap4J tool spits out lots of numbers, especially for larger projects. But from these numbers, you can’t easily tell some important questions like:

  • Are there regions (packages, classes) with lots more crap than others?
  • What are those regions?

So we thought about the problem and found it to be solvable by data visualization.

Enter CrapMap

If you need to use advanced data visualization techniques, there is a very helpful project called prefuse (which has a successor named flare for web applications). It provides an exhaustive API to visualize nearly everything the way you want to. We wanted our crap statistics drawn in a treemap. A treemap is a bunch of boxes, crammed together by a clever layouting strategy, each one representing data, for example by its size or color.

The CrapMap is a treemap where every box represents a method. The size gives you a hint of the method’s complexity, the color indicates its crappyness. Method boxes reside inside their classes’ boxes which reside in package boxes. That way, the treemap represents your code structure.

A picture worth a thousand numbers


This is a screenshot of the CrapMap in action. You see a medium sized project with few crap methods (less than one percent). Each red rectangle is a crappy method, each green one is an acceptable method regarding its complexity.

Adding interaction

You can quickly identify your biggest problem (in terms of complexity) by selecting it with your mouse. All necessary data about this method is shown in the bottom section of the window. The overall data of the project is shown in the top section.

If you want to answer some more obscure questions about your methods, try the search box in the lower right corner. The CrapMap comes with a search engine using your methods’ names.

Using CrapMap on your project

CrapMap is a java swing application, meant for desktop usage. To visualize your own project, you need the report.xml data file of it from Crap4J. Start the CrapMap application and load the report.xml using the “open file” dialog that shows up. That’s all.

In the near future, CrapMap will be hosted on dev.java.net (crapmap.dev.java.net). Right now, it’s only available as a binary executable from our download server (1MB download size). When you unzip the archive, double-click the crapmap.jar to start the application. CrapMap requires Java6 to be installed.

Show your project

We would be pleased to see your CrapMap. Make a screenshot, upload it and leave a comment containing the link to the image.

7 thoughts on “A guide through the swamp – The CrapMap”

  1. Thanks for the article, I really liked it.
    Actually I didn’t know the idea of CRAP before, so I’ll have a try on my next project – including your visualization tool ;o)

    Well done!

  2. Thanks for presenting Crap4J: up to your article I wasn’t aware of this tool.

    But the link to your CrapMap application seems to be broken. Maybe you can fix this?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.