The software industry is increasingly confronted with the issues of understanding and maintaining a special type of software systems, namely distributed systems. Although these systems are usually implemented in an object-oriented fashion, they raise very specific, and technology-dependent, understandability and quality assessment challenges. This paper presents a visual approach for comprehending the design of distributed software systems, by using technology awareness to isolate the functionally-distinct units within the code, so that the blueprint of the system's distributed behavior can be easily extracted. The approach provides means for observing the system's distributed architecture, visualizing the structure of the functional entities, and understanding their collaboration within the system, while focusing the analysis to the most substantial code fragments that deserve being taken into consideration.
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