One dimensional data most often occurs in the form of sequential lists, often text based. Typical examples include program listings, documents with many lines, and document search results. Users of systems that visualize such data will sometimes wish to further search for more specific results and at other times will want global data about the character of the list they are viewing or how a particular element in the list compares to others. Additionally, access to individual elements in long lists is expected.

The common approach to these problems is to provide methods for scrolling through long lists until the desired element is reached. Usually this is accompanied by some sort of ordering system to produce labels for the data, either by page or line, which facilitate navigation. A typical world wide web search result illustrates all these techniques. The common frustration with such searches also illustrates the inadequacy of such answers in the long term.

A large part of what visual approaches have to offer are more compact presentations and more effective responses to user choices. Rather than compiling statistics and printing them as part of the list or as the header, visual techniques represent relative length or importance by line length or other visual attributes such as color. This not only allows the representation of much more information on a single screen, but also convenience in comparing elements. And of course, if more fits on a screen, the user can usually access that data much faster, either by clicking on the desired element or first filtering the view in order to be able to see fewer elements in more detail.






Page Maintainers

Last modified: Fri Jan 2 13:06:32 EST 1998 - djheller@wam.umd.edu,reed@cs.umd.edu