Browsing Hierarchical Data with Multi-Level Dynamic Queries and Pruning
Kumar, Harsha P.
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User often must browse hierarchies with thousands of nodes in search of those that best match their information needs. The PDQ Tree-browser (Pruning with Dynamic Queries) visualization tool was specified, designed and developed for this purpose. This tool presents trees in two tightly-coupled views, one a detailed view and the other an overview. Users can use dynamic queries, a method for rapidly filtering data, to filter nodes at each level of the tree. The dynamic query panels are user-customizable. Subtrees of unselected nodes are pruned out, leading to compact views of relevant nodes. Usability testing of the PDQ Tree- browser, done with 8 subjects, helped asses strengths and identify possible improvement. The PDQ Tree-browser was used in Network Management (600 nodes) and University Finder (1100 nodes) applications. A controlled experiment, with 24 subjects, showed that pruning significantly improved performance speed and subjective user satisfaction. Future research directions are suggested.