OnGraX: A Web-Based System for the Collaborative Visual Analysis of Graphs
Vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 5-27, 2017. Regular paper.
Abstract The visual analysis of complex networks is a challenging task in many fields, such as systems biology or social sciences. Often, various domain experts work together to improve the analysis time or the quality of the analysis results. Collaborative visualization tools can facilitate the analysis process in such situations. We propose a new web-based visualization environment which supports distributed, synchronous and asynchronous collaboration. In addition to standard collaboration features like event tracking or synchronizing, our client/server-based system provides a rich set of visualization and interaction techniques for better navigation and overview of the input network. Changes made by specific analysts or even just visited network elements are highlighted on demand by heat maps. They enable us to visualize user behavior data without affecting the original graph visualization, are robust against layout changes, and are user-sensitive in a sense that the current analyst is able to perceive which changes were made by others in asynchronous collaboration. In case of synchronous collaboration, an analyst can see where and what others are currently analyzing in the network visualization. Thus, our approach addresses critical collaborative visualization challenges, for instance, awareness and coordination of user activities or pointing to interesting objects. We evaluated the usability of the heat map approach against two alternatives in a controlled user experiment. In addition, the results of a domain expert review are described in this article.
Submitted: October 2015.
Reviewed: February 2016.
Revised: April 2016.
Accepted: July 2016.
Final: July 2016.
Published: January 2017.
Communicated by Emilio Di Giacomo and Anna Lubiw
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