VisualCues Logo


Humans are very efficient in processing and remembering visual information. That is why metaphors and visual representations are important in education. Because of their high visual expressiveness, presentation tools like Microsoft PowerPoint are very popular for teaching in classrooms. However, representing source code with such tools is tedious and cumbersome, while alternatives like source code editors lack visual expression. Moreover, modifying prepared content, e.g. while responding to questions, is not well supported. In this paper, we introduce VisualCues, an approach with the goal of combining the flexibility of source code editors with the visual expressiveness of classical slide-based presentation tools. A key concept of VisualCues is linking visual artifacts to specific elements of source code. The main advantage is that when changing the underlying source code, the positions of linked visual artifacts are changed simultaneously. We implemented a first prototype and evaluated it in two undergraduate computer science courses.


VisualCues: Visually Explaining Source Code in Computer Science Education.
Benjamin Biegel, Sebastian Baltes, Bob Prevos, and Stephan Diehl.
Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC 2015).
Acceptance rate: 48% (36/75).
Preprint Slides BibTeX

Supplementary Material

  • Slides from first lecture (software design patterns): PDF
  • Slides from second lecture (binary search tree): PDF
  • Questionnaire (in German): PDF
  • Answers: CSV Diagram

Demo Video

VisualCues Demo Video

The documents distributed on this website have been provided by the contributing authors by means to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work on a noncommercial basis. Copyright and all rights therein are maintained by the authors or by other copyright holders, notwithstanding that they have offered their works here electronically. It is understood that all persons copying this information will adhere to the terms and constraints invoked by each author’s copyright and the provided license. Not CC licensed works may not be reposted without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.