Enter the src, part 1

(I published this post in Spanish a few weeks back, but I'm only now getting around to translating it)

A talk about code and VR

Earlier this summer, I was invited to give a talk at Ruby Conf Colombia. The organizers offered to let me speak about any topic I wanted.

What I most like doing for talks is to take a new topic, experiment with it, then present on what I've learned. That's what I plan on doing for this talk, and this time I'm trying to write about the process as I go.

What I plan to investigate is how to visualize and explore codebases in virtual reality, using WebVR and Mozilla's A-frame.

Why VR

I'm interested in the ability of virtual reality to apply our understanding of the real world to digital data. The first VR experience I tried was a game where you throw arrows at some stick figures who are attacking your castle. The game didn't need to explain gravity, or how to throw arrows. Because we understand these things in real life, that was enough to understand them in the game.

I was also impressed by how the game used vertigo and an instinctive fear of heights. The hardware I was using, the HTC Vibe, allows you to move freely withing a space of about 6 feet by 9 feet, but no more. To prevent you from going outside that limit, the game puts the you on an high platform, with a big dropoff on all sides. Instinctually, you don't want to step outside it for fear of falling.

My hypothesis

Viusalizations help us to understand data and form ideas about what it could mean. VR gives us the ability to create visualizations that leverage other aspects of our perception. If we represent code using these tools, my thinking is that we should be able to understand it more intuitively.

Next steps

Right now, I don't know much about VR, or about how to visualize code. That's my challenge during the next few months before the RubyConf, to learn about these topics and form some type of prototype. If that sounds interesting, I'll be posting more about it here!