Skip to Main Content
In this paper we introduce and formally define Query by Browsing (QBB), a scalable, relationally complete visual query language based on the desktop user interface paradigm and tuple relational calculus that allows the formulation of complex queries over relational, entity-relationship, object-oriented and XML data sources on a variety of handheld and desktop platforms. It is to our knowledge the first visual query language to combine the important characteristics of usability, scalability, expressive power and flexibility. We support these claims by demonstrating the similarity of the QBB paradigm to the popular desktop user interface paradigm, by relating it to relational calculus and relational algebra and by describing Chiromancer II, a web-based implementation of the QBB paradigm for handheld devices. We also discuss ways in which non-relational sources can be represented and queried and compare QBB to related work in the area of visual query languages for a variety of data models. We finally offer conclusions and thoughts for future work.