Date of Award

August 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Computer Science

First Advisor

Ethan Munson

Committee Members

Susan Mcroy, Tian Zhao


Change Classifications, Collaborative Writing, Merging Ducoments, Revision


Revision is an important step in the writing process in order to obtain a good written work. It is mostly needed in academia, industry, and government. Usually, it is done by one reviser or more who is not the author of the written piece. The role of revisers is not limited to correcting any spelling or grammar mistakes, but also ensuring the coherence of the writing as well as the words used by the author to express his/her idea correctly to the readers. In addition, revisers help the author to put his/her writing in the appropriate format. One approach to do the revision is individually in a parallel way where each reviser modifies the original document. As a result, the author ends up with multiple versions of his/her work. For this situation, many merging control systems have been developed to enable the user to merge the revised versions with the original document in order to represent the changes that were made in the revised versions in an easily understandable way. Although these merging tools provide the users with much of the relevant information about the changes and who made them, the interfaces of these tools do not allow users to filter the corrections so that the users’ attention can be focused on the most important changes. For example, if there are format changes and grammar corrections, in addition to editing changes that could change the meaning of the author’s original writing, we believe that users would prefer to pay attention to the changes that could change the meaning and then check the format changes, after taking a look at grammar corrections.

In this thesis we developed a new merging interface that enables the user to filter the changes, based on their level of importance, to give them special attention. In addition, the interface provides the users with a user-friendly control panel that allows the user to choose among conflicting changes. This will help users produce a correct merged document.

A usability study was conducted with ten graduate students from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee to test whether a high fidelity prototype of this interface would help users to better understand the changes that were made in the two revisions as well as choose the best revisions. While the study found both positive and negative qualities in the prototype, most participants valued the change classification feature, suggesting that it is worthy of further research.