An alternate, d3 based user interface for dm4 to present and filter work done in collaboration and Topicmaps.
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README.md

Stableviews UI

A DeepaMehta 4 plugin delivering alternate user interfaces to present work done in Topicmaps. My freestyle project for DeepaMehta 4.

This bundle currently comes with four alternative views for information created and organized with DeepaMehta 4:

  • Topicmaps Reader Standard Style - Think of nodes, edges, labels and details (SVG Circles)
  • Topicmaps Reader Memex Style - Think of nodes, edges, labels and details memex style (SVG Rectangles)
  • Timeline Search & Browser - This is actually quite useful already. Think of twitter without any "customer magic" but with the raw power of time range queries over all your Notes, Contacts, Bookmarks and Files.
  • Hexagon Frontpage - Think of a random startup screen visualizing your personal information for further investigation, not useful at all (yet).

Note: Please keep in mind that this software is under heavy development and the screens and dialogs might not always work at all or as expected Therefore i appreciate any help and feedback though.

Yet unavailable:

  • Advanced Search - Presenting fulltext search results with their context.

Feel free to provide me some feedback in the Issues section of this repo.

Getting Started

Note: Each of the beforementioend user dialogs are still under heavy development, sometimes do not even work at all and are just work in progress.

You can find the most recent builds of DeepaMehta 4.8 and the two required plugins at http://download.deepamehta.de/nightly/.

After working in and having created a DeepaMehta 4 Topicmap you can use the View in stableviews button in the lower left corner of the Webclient. Clicking on it you'll open the current map in the stableviews ui.

In DeepaMehta's Help menu you'll addtionally find the links to the Hexagon View and Timeline View.

Development

For setting up our development please follow the description outlined in this PluginDevelopmentGuide.

cd dm4-stableviews
mvn clean package

To instruct mvn where to copy your new build to you could point out the bundle-deploy directory of your DeepaMehta installation through adding a dm4.deploy.dir property into the pom.xml. Once copied DeepaMehta will then "hot-deploy" the new version.

Inspiration

The Topicmaps UI by Jörg Richter (@jri).

With this interface we draw upon the knowledge on humans visual memory ("... the blue bar at the top there") and situative memory ("... as i was meeting Ben for the first time.") (p. 3, Richter, 2012, Presentation at Größenwahn). In DeepaMehta people think that an item "is" or "is best described" through its relations to other items. And those relations can represent context. To be able do meaningful research with this tool we believe that this user interface needs to allow users of free placement of items and it needs to persist those visual structures (stable geometries).

Challenges

At best, we are able to address the following, more general challenges for such UI:

  • comparison: e.g. allow to compare details of any two given topics
  • ACCOMPLISHED - multi select: allow to select and trigger commands on a set of elements
  • query-ui: allow for iterative refinement of "Search Results", e.g. in forms of "Search Buckets"
  • IN PROGRESS - command line: text based interaction to control the ui (search and reveal topics in maps, filter in maps, search and load maps, "mail jri")
  • MANUALLY DO'ABLE - themes: allow to switch between many CSS definitions
  • tiled-windows: enable users to tile screen space wherever possible

Description of difference

The difference and focus of UI research in this code repository regarding the dm4-webclient is:

  • Do not aim at being a generic solution (straightaway) but first become a configurable one
    (looking at you: topic and association types)

  • Aim at an immediate control feel for users manipulating their view

  • Enable users multi-dimensional filtering of infos (faceted navigation)
    a.k.a. introduce visualize aspects of a query which allows iterative refinement
    therefore: design stuff that directly represents a semi-structured and/or structured query and
    think of how various result-sets may be represented

  • Facilitate comparison of deep information (the "teapot" of UIs for information processing tasks / infoviz-tools)

  • Try to achieve something like reversibility of commands on infos (Undo/Redo)
    e.g. try to implement command pattern . (though this may be just too much of an effort..)

  • Design "Workspaces" as explicit (and not necessarily implicit) places in regards to "Maps"

  • Provide infrastructure to personalize client-side renderings on per user and domain base
    in terms of: color-palette active, gui-theme loaded and preferred rendering settings (map, tree)

  • Operate with per-user configuration of all presentations settings (color scheme, fonts, shapes, etc.)

  • Tiling areas in a map? How would you imagine?

Addendum

I am curious and still want to get to know more about the limits of visual sense-making. For example, we know (from studies in 2008 and 2009) that creating manually arranged graph layouts is promising when we do so focussing on designing touch- or pen-based interactions. At least much more promising than focussing on delivering this UI for pointer-based interactions. Nonetheless, this graph aims to be (to some degree) controllable by keyboard interactions, too.

To be able to get there i would like to develop this GUI in a highly connective and collaborative way. I herewith seek for your help in making this possible. Please help to think through some of the details and please think about contributing anything from sketches, requirements or wishes up to code or styles.

Everyone is welcome!

Cheers!


Author: Malte Reißig
Berlin <-> Leipzig, 2014-2016