01 September 2010

Why Choosel is based on GWT

I presented Choosel to the Visual Interaction Design (VisID) research group at the University of Victoria. Choosel is an open-source framework for web-based information exploration environments aiming at information visualization novices.

The first part of my presentation focused on several design decision behind Choosel. The framework is targeting information visualization novices - those who are not familiar with information visualization and visual data analysis beyond the graphics encountered in everyday life. Two major design decision we made based on those constraints is choosing the web as the target platform and developing Choosel using GWT.

We assumed that those information visualization novices are more likely to look at smaller data sets (up to 5000 items), but are not willing to spent much time getting started with visual data analysis. This was the main driver behind the decision to develop a web-based environment, because this spares user the burden of installing software. We considered removing this entry barrier more important then scalability beyond several thousand data items. As our main goal was to a provide interactive information exploration environment, responsiveness was important and we decided to use primarily technology that runs on the user's computer and not on the server.

In Choosel, we leverage third party visualization components and toolkits such as the Simile Timeline, Protovis and FlexViz. In order to be able to integrate different technologies such as Flash and JavaScript in the browser, we decided to use a JavaScript based technologies. First, we developed a initial prototype using the dojo toolkit. However, it turned out that because of our software development skills and tool support for unit testing, refactoring, and debugging, we were able to develop the same prototype using GWT in about a quarter of the time. The current version of Choosel is based on GWT.

Here are the slides from my presentation:

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