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giCentre - Department of Information Science


HiDE software All platforms or Mac only

HiDE source code


HiDE Explanatory video

HiVE Hierarchical Visualisation Expression language

HiDE input data file format

vizTweets project

The project

Video 30 secs


Software bugs/suggestions

Email: gicentre 'at'

HiDE: Hierarchical Data Explorer

HiDE is software for visually exploring categorical data using hierarchical layouts. Different orders, sizes, colours and layouts help reveal or emphasise different aspects of the data.

HiDE lets you interactively create novel hierarchical displays that share many of the characteristics of well-known and established statistical graphics such as small multiples, spine plots, cartograms, scatter plots, mosaic and treemaps.

This work was produced as part of the vizTweets project, a Virtual Research Environment Rapid Innovation (VRERI) Programme funded by JISC. Although this project is complete, we continue to work on this.


The software is a cross-platform application that requires Java 1.5 (or above) to run.

To run the downloaded version:

Please report any bugs or feature request on the open issue list or by email to gicentre [at]

The HiDE download comes with some example datasets. See below for details and information about how to get your own data into HiDE.

HiDE lets you build graphical views of categorical data where categories can be sized, ordered and coloured by various summary statistics measures, and tweet views that are interesting. Default (natural) order is either alphanumerical or some other order as defined in the data file. Default categorical colour uses perceptually evenly-spaced colour, where categorical values are consistently coloured. To use colours from shallower levels in the hierarchy, turning off colour at the deepest levels. Spatial ordering using our spatial treemaps can be achieved by using x for order1, y for order2 and the 2Dfill layout.

Please watch our video about how HiDE works. We hope you find the software is fairly self-explanatory. Pressing 'h' at any time will give you a help screen for the following:

* Some of this functionality is missing from the applet version.

Note that when you set up your twitter account through HiDE, we do neither receive nor retain your login details. If you opt to set your account as a default (by pressing '~' when prompted), the details will be stored on your computer locally in a file called twitter.ini. Delete file this to reset.

Please report bugs/suggestions to the the vizTweets Google Code page.

Your own data

HiDE expects two files for each dataset, each with the same name but different extensions:

HiDE only lets you open files, if both .tab and .xml files exist in the directory.

HiDE can be used with your own data - see the HiDE input data file documentation.

Version history (in reverse chronological order)

v2.1.7 (released January 2012)
v2.1.0 (March 2011)
v2.0.3 (Jan 2011)
v2.0.2 (Dec 2010)
v2.0.0, April 2010
v1, Oct 2009

Fixed to one dataset (US Election) designed to support a tutorial about the role of order, size, colour and layout in data visualisation design. A copy of the tutorial is at

Useful publications:

Slingsby, A., Dykes, J. and Wood, J. 2009. Configuring Hierarchical Layouts to Address Research Questions. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 15 (6), Nov-Dec 2009, pp977-984 [pdf | video] Honorable mention

Slingsby, A., Dykes, J. and Wood, J. 2010. Rectangular Hierarchical Cartograms for Socio-Economic Data, Journal of Maps, v2010, 330-345. DOI: 10.4113/jom.2010.1090 [link].

Slingsby, A., Dykes, J., Wood, J. and Crooks, A. 2009. The Role of Layout and Order in Treemaps for Showing Spatial and Temporal Variation in House Prices. Abstract for the GeoViz Hamburg Workshop, Hamburg, Germany. [demo | pdf]