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giCentre - Department of Information Science

Record, share & (b)log analytical graphics with software that tweets succinct descriptions of the visualization process.

Many complex graphics used in visualization are hierarchical.
Treemaps are an example that feature with increasing prominence in science and the media.

We have developed a language to describe and share hierarchial graphics such as treemaps along with software that can generate and interpret this language.

The language and software are available through an open API.

Screenshots or diagram of prototype:

The approach is best documented through our presentation and demo at VisWeek 2010, the world's primary visualization conference: "Tweeting Visualizations for Collaborative Visual Analysis".

Description of Prototype:

ProtoTYPE 1 : The HiVE language

An open source high-level means for describing hierarchical graphics for visualization.

For example ... this simple graphic showing the proportions of votes for parties across multiple US elections, is described using this HiVE notation.
sColor(/,HIER );
This more complex graphic shows proportions of votes by party for each election and is described using this HiVE notation.
This third graphic, uses a three level hierarchy described using HiVE to specify small abstract maps of the US at state level for each presidential election.

ProtoTYPE 2 : The HiDE software

HiDE allows data sets so be loaded and explored through hierarchical graphics.

It was used to produce the graphics shown above.

HiDE generates HiVE as graphics are produced and will send commented HiVE statements to twitter as a tweet ... meaning that the visualization process can be recorded using this means of microblogging. HiDE will also send QR codes and images of the current visualization to a database. These can be retrieved from the single tweet.

These QR codes represent the three pairs of images and HiVE statements shown above.

HiDE will also read HiVE statements that are copied into the appliction as text from other apps, such as twitter, and QR codes that encode HiVE. Try running HiDE and copying the statements used above. Then paste them into HiDE with CTRL-V and the software will generate the graphics and let you explore the data from that particular angle.

The result is a piece of software that stores the visualization process and can describe, record, communicate and retriive any hierarchical visualization using the HiVE language.

HiDE comes with a tutorial that has been used in taught MScs and Summer Schools.

ProtoTYPE 3 : The HiVE English software

Other prototypes could be developed based upon HiVE.

HiVE English is an example online application that converts HiVE strings into natural language that may, for example, be used as descriptions or captions for single images.

Try pasting one of the HiVE statements above into the HiVE English web page to convert the expression into something more readable.

End User of Prototype:

The ability to record graphics, reload graphics and navigate between them will be useful to all sorts of users of graphics.

HiDE is currently being used to describe the visualization process in the Urban Happiness Project at Aalto University, Finland, and has been used to describe graphics utilised by atmospheric scientists at NCAS-Climate, University of Reading.

We envisage visualization developers using HiDE to describe graphical depictions using the language and to contribute to the language's development.

Link to working prototype:

Software :

  • HiDE v2 - an updated and extended open source HiVE demo for hierarchical visualization
  • HiVE English - an open source HiVE demo converts HiVE strings into sentences

Language :

  • HiVE v2 - enhanced language developed through needs analysis

Link to end user documentation:

  • HiDE Tutorial - self-paced resource for exploring visual design decisions and sharing design ideas with HiVE

Link to code repository or API:

Link to technical documentation:

Date prototype was launched:

Project Team Names, Emails and Organisations:

  • Jason Dykes, j.dykes(at)
  • Aidan Slingsby, a.slingsby(at)
  • Jo Wood, jwo(at)

Project Website:

PIMS entry:

Table of Content for Project Posts

Our project posts involve HiVE statements. Look for the #vizTweet hashtag :

12th November 2010