Visual analytics tools provide powerful visual representations to support sense-making processes. Analysts typically repeatedly work through a series of steps, varying various parameters each time. Few visual analytics tools support this process well, nor do they provide support for visualizing and understanding the analysis process itself.
To help analysts understand, explore, reference, and reuse their analysis process, we developed a new visual analytics system called CZSaw (See-Saw) that provides an editable and re-playable history navigation channel in addition to multiple visual representations of document collections and contained entities (in a manner inspired by Jigsaw). Conventional history navigation tools range from basic undo and redo to branching timelines of user actions.
In CZSaw's approach, user interactions are first translated into a script language that drives the underlying scripting-driven propagation system. The latter allows analysts to edit analysis steps, and ultimately to program them.
Second, built on this base are both a history view showing progress and alternative paths, and a dependency graph showing the underlying logic of the dependencies among the results of each step.
These tools result in a visual model of the sense-making process, letting analysts visualize their analysis process, and thus reinterpret the problem, explore alternatives, extract analysis patterns from the existing process, and reuse the patterns with other related analyses.
The CZSaw group was awarded the VAST 2010 Mini Challenge 1 award for "Outstanding Interaction Model." It was also awarded, jointly with two other Simon Fraser University teams using other visual analytics tools, a Grand Challenge award for "Excellent Student Team Analysis"