Gource Code Visualisation

I've been meaning to write about this bit of software for about three years. I first used it on the HTML Configurator project we did for Volkswagen. As part of delivering the first ever HTML responsive car configuration, we were looking at ways of showing how some of the changed ways of working we piloted.

One of the tools we looked at is called Gource. Its own description is "Software projects are displayed by Gource as an animated tree with the root directory of the project at its centre. Directories appear as branches with files as leaves. Developers can be seen working on the tree at the times they contributed to the project."

Using it is about as simple as you can get. Install the binary on your computer. navigate in the command line to the repository you are interested in, and type 'gource'. The video will then generate. The video is essntially and animation of your commits. Named resouce fly around the scrren using beams of light to create changes to code. The more significant the changes, the greater the explosion of colour.

There are a range of personalisation options available, removing or minimizing the names of the people involved, changing colours, speed etc, to allow you to show something that fits your needs.

It becomes particularly spectacular when you merge a branch back into trunk and suddenly see and explosion of code. I have found it a really helpful tool for showing to people the work and complexity that can come with building even an simple seeming application.

If you ever want to show the balance between an elegantly simple solution delivered and the work taken to reach that point, this can be a very effective way of doing so.