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Visual Languages, 1996. Proceedings., IEEE Symposium on

Date 3-6 Sept. 1996

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  • IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages

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  • Proceedings 1996 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages

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  • Author index

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  • Visualizing program executions on large data sets

    Page(s): 166 - 173
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    Understanding and interpreting large data sets is an important but challenging operation in many technical disciplines. Computer visualization has become a valuable tool to help portray characteristics of large data sets. In software visualization, illustrating the operation of very large programs or programs working on very large data sets has remained one of the key open problems. We introduce an approach that uses semantic zooming to depict large program executions. Our method utilizes abstract, clustered graphics to portray program operations on the entire data set. Then, by interacting with the presentation, a viewer can zoom in to examine details and individual values. At this “magnified” level, the presentation adjusts to reflect displays common in existing algorithm animation and program visualization systems View full abstract»

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  • Testing effectiveness of algorithm animation

    Page(s): 182 - 189
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    Studies designed to demonstrate the pedagogic effectiveness of algorithm animation programs have been markedly unsuccessful, in spite of high expectations. We present a framework for future experiments based upon design issues particular to algorithm animation, plus pertinent educational considerations. Guidelines are drawn from a meta-analysis of previous work and experiments we have performed View full abstract»

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  • Integrating a constraint solver into a real-time animation environment

    Page(s): 12 - 19
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    Investigates the integration of an interactive constraint solver into an existing 2D real-time animation environment in order to achieve a better observability, traceability and stability of the individual graphical objects. We present two approaches for assigning constraints to the objects. The first approach assigns constraints to the objects when they are created, keeping them stable during their entire life-time. The second approach dynamically changes constraints before the computation of each frame. The investigation is based on our practical experience with the complete visual programming language Pictorial Janus and the parallel constraint solver Parcon View full abstract»

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  • A user interface for the visualization and manipulation of arrays

    Page(s): 54 - 55
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    The success of spreadsheets has shown that a visual representation of a 2D array greatly facilitates solving certain problems. However, spreadsheets are not general-purpose programming environments and are not suited to many problems that might naturally be solved using multi-dimensional arrays. Furthermore, spreadsheets employ a textual notation for cell references in formulas. This notation, which adds to the programmer's burden by distinguishing between relative and absolute addressing, can be difficult to understand and is error-prone even for the most experienced users. In this paper, we present a user interface for multi-dimensional arrays within Formulate, a form-based visual programming language. This implementation avoids textual array notation and supports the application of formulas to logical regions of an array, rather than just to individual elements View full abstract»

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  • How does a visual simulation program support students creating science models?

    Page(s): 110 - 111
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    This study has grown out of a research project working with 4th and 5th graders to create animated computer models of scientific concepts covered in their science curriculum. We are using a visual simulation program called KidSim developed by Apple Computer. In the grid-based KidSim environment, children employ programming by demonstration to create graphical rewrite rules which control the movements and appearance of the objects in their models. KidSim offers children the basic functionality of a programming language in predominately visual form. The students use KidSim as a modeling tool to design their own concrete representation of an interesting science phenomenon. Due to the accessibility of picture-based software, students can create, manipulate and revise their own models. By taking a more active role in the learning process, students can develop a more in-depth understanding of scientific concepts. After working with the children for one semester, we wanted to determine how well KidSim supported them in their model-building efforts. We report here our own observations of what challenged the children, results of a survey completed by the children and an analysis of programming language features used in their models compared to an experienced programmer's models View full abstract»

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  • Visualisation of object oriented program execution

    Page(s): 190 - 191
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    An environment for visualising object oriented program execution providing concrete and abstract views of program structure and behaviour is described. Of particular novelty are dynamic views using a road map metaphor View full abstract»

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  • Spatial-Query-by-Sketch

    Page(s): 60 - 67
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    Today's methods for interacting with geographic information systems (GISs) and geographic databases are primarily aspatial, as they require users to deal with geographic data primarily through alphanumeric command languages. Spatial querying by typing a command in some spatial query language or by selecting the same syntax from pull-down menus is a tedious process, because it often requires extensive training in the use of the particular query language, and forces users to translate a spatial image they may have in their mind into a non-spatial language. To overcome this conceptual gap, we propose Spatial-Query-by-Sketch, a sketch-based GIS user interface that focuses on specifying spatial relations by drawing them. This query style more directly supports human spatial thinking, which is critical because users frequently have an image-like representation in their minds when they query about spatial configurations. This paper introduces the fundamental concepts of Spatial-Query-by-Sketch, provides examples of typical interactions and discusses query processing strategies by relaxing the constraints drawn in terms of a qualitative model View full abstract»

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  • Reducing the cognitive requirements of visual programming

    Page(s): 255 - 262
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    The authors evaluate a new general-purpose visual programming system, PrologSpace. The system addresses classic issues of visual interfaces: layout, shape, colour, and iconography; and those of particular concern to visual programming: multiple views (visual abstractions), synchronised views, integration of visual and textual dimensions, visual debugging, cognitive dimensions, and the problems of scale. They describe the system and examine its cognitive dimensions. They argue that: (1) PrologSpace enhances Prolog programming, and (2) PrologSpace has better `viscosity', `visibility', and `secondary notation' than two other notable general visual programming systems and without any significant loss of dimensionality in other respects View full abstract»

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  • A visual language for interactive data exploration and analysis

    Page(s): 84 - 85
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    The analysis of large amounts of data to extract generalizations, exceptions, trends, and hidden relationships is a common activity in the business and scientific communities. While some kinds of “knowledge” can be extracted automatically with preselected algorithms or data mining techniques, others require an experienced human, often an expert in analysis, the business or scientific context, or both. We have found that such humans combine exploration, the search for a relevant subset or view of the data, with analysis, statistical or other techniques for measurement. We designed and implemented a visual language, IDEA, to assist the data analyst in these two intertwined tasks. The language is a convenient representation for data analysis and provides environmental support for keeping track of sequences of operations, reuse of the data analysis itself, and enforced semantics between operations and data View full abstract»

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  • Design benchmarks for VPL static representations

    Page(s): 263 - 264
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    A weakness of many interactive visual programming languages (VPLs) is their static representations. Lack of an adequate static representation places a heavy cognitive burden on a VPL's programmers, because they must remember potentially long dynamic sequences of screen displays in order to understand a previously-written program. Building upon the cognitive dimensions developed for programming languages by cognitive psychologists Green and others, the authors have developed a set of concrete benchmarks for VPL designers to use when designing new static representations. These benchmarks provide design-time information that can be used to improve a VPL's static representation View full abstract»

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  • Tactile programming: a unified manipulation paradigm supporting program comprehension, composition and sharing

    Page(s): 102 - 109
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    Although visual programming techniques have been used to lower the threshold of programming for end users, they are not sufficient for creating end user programming environments that are both easy to use and powerful. To achieve this, an environment must support the definition of programs that are not just static representations of behavior, but are instead dynamic collections of program objects which can be applied in a number of contexts rather than just a program editor. We describe an approach to end user programming called tactile programming which extends visual techniques with a unified program manipulation paradigm that makes programs easy to comprehend, compose and, most importantly, share over the World Wide Web. Tactile programming's inherent ability to support the social context in which programming takes place along with its ability to ease program comprehension and composition is what differentiates this approach from others. In the context of the Agentsheets programming substrate, we have created an instance of a tactile programming environment called Visual AgenTalk which is used to create interactive simulations View full abstract»

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  • Perspective viewing, anaglyph stereo or shutter glass stereo?

    Page(s): 192 - 193
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    This paper describes a case study that assessed the strengths and weaknesses of 3D display modes: perspective viewing, anaglyph stereo and shutter glass stereo. We followed the hypothesis that stereo viewing allows a faster and more accurate recognition than the anaglyph and the perspective viewing. For our case study, we used organic molecules. Although these have inherent spatial information we think that results of these experiments are applicable to the visualization of abstract information spaces in VL View full abstract»

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  • Seeing systolic computations in a video game world

    Page(s): 95 - 101
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    ToonTalkTM is a general-purpose concurrent programming system in which the source code is animated and the programming environment is like a video game. Every abstract computational aspect is mapped into a concrete metaphor. For example, a computation is a city, a concurrent object is a house, inter-process communication is represented by birds carrying messages between houses, a method or clause is a robot trained by the user, and so on. The programmer controls a “programmer persona” in this video world to construct run, observe, debug, and modify programs. ToonTalk has been described in detail elsewhere. Here we show how systolic programs can be constructed and animated in ToonTalk. Systolic computations run on multiple processors connected in a regular topology, where all communication is via local message passing. A ToonTalk city can be seen as a systolic multi-processor and each house in the city as an active processor. One is able to construct systolic algorithms and watch their execution as houses are built and destroyed (i.e., processes are spawned and terminate) and birds carry messages between houses View full abstract»

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  • Teaching binary tree algorithms through visual programming

    Page(s): 38 - 45
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    Shows how visual programming can be used to teach the subject of binary tree algorithms. In our approach, the student implements a binary tree algorithm by manipulating abstract tree fragments (not necessarily just single nodes) in a visual way. This paper contributes to visual programming research by combining elements of animation, programming and proof to produce an educational visual programming tool. In addition, we describe our experiences with Opsis, a system we built to demonstrate the ideas in this paper (Opsis is a Java applet and can be accessed at http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/amir/Opsis.html). Finally, we make the claim that visual programming is an ideal way to teach data structure algorithms View full abstract»

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  • AlgorithmExplorer: a student centered algorithm animation system

    Page(s): 174 - 181
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    Algorithm animation can be an effective tool for understanding the behavior of programs. However, most approaches towards algorithm animation have focused on evermore sophisticated graphical depictions of programs, and not on the process of how students can develop and make use of animations in an educational setting. We describe the AlgorithmExplorer, a flexible algorithm animation system targeted towards classroom, laboratory and individual student use. The AlgorithmExplorer provides an open system architecture for integrating student programs, mechanisms for supporting user input, and a three tiered animation command interface that provides rich animation constructs while also supporting a wide range of student programming abilities View full abstract»

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  • The VAS formalism in VASE

    Page(s): 140 - 147
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    This paper discusses the visual algebraic specification (VAS) formalism and its supporting interactive environment (VASE). The VAS formalism is intended for the definition of visual syntax and semantics and is aimed at generating language specific environments. The collection construct of VAS is emphasized in that it supports the convenient specification of language constructs involving arbitrarily many items. The VAS formalism and supporting environment are discussed by use of an example in which the syntax, semantics and interaction of a toy language are specified View full abstract»

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  • Enhancing iconic program reusability with object sharing

    Page(s): 288 - 295
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    The paper describes how to improve the reusability of iconic program modules. In iconic programming systems, the most important features for reuse are the customization of a module and combination of multiple modules without changing their definitions. In order to realize these features, we propose an object sharing technique, which allows components of multiple modules to represent the same object instance. Since a component in a module can be related to an object in another module, by adding a new function to an object in the latter module, the former module can be customized without changing its own definition. In addition, by relating a component to multiple objects in different modules, different functions defined in each module, can be combined easily. Finally, we show that the proposed technique realizes a useful software development style using templates, which will contribute to the improvement of the productivity View full abstract»

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  • A visual language for color-based painting retrieval

    Page(s): 68 - 75
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    The availability of large image databases is emphasizing the relevance of filters, which permit one to focus on a small subset of data. Visual specification of such filters provides a natural way to express content-oriented queries. To support a high power of expression, an original visual language is proposed for the symbolic representation of the semantics induced by the color quality and arrangement over a painting. The proposed language is based on the theory of color semantics introduced by artists in the 20th Century, and is developed to support a visual querying paradigm. This paper formalizes the grammar of the language in its visual form and describes it implementation in a prototype system of painting retrieval by color content View full abstract»

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  • User interaction in a multi-view design environment

    Page(s): 316 - 323
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    Interactive graphical editors provide good means for system design by the application of visual languages (VL). Unfortunately, applications of visual languages for the design of large systems seem not to be practicable because of the resulting huge and complicated graphical picture. The paper introduces a notion of Multi-View Design Environments (MVDEs) that try to overcome this problem. The principles of an MVDE can be applied to any VL that can be mapped to a graph like internal representation. The so called graph model is a basis for the data processing in an MVDE. It enables the applying of the Multi-View-Technique to large designs by their redundant decomposition. An MVDE allows the creation of views on the fly while keeping consistency among all views. Sophisticated user interaction techniques including direct manipulation and hypertext navigation support, makes the MVDE easy to learn and to use. The paper finishes with a short description of the implementation of two projects which have used the MVDE approach and a comparison to related work View full abstract»

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  • Visual language support for planning and coordination in cooperative work systems

    Page(s): 324 - 325
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    The paper describes three new visual languages far use in the coordination of collaborative work in large CSCW environments. EVPL describes work plans and is used to define the context of work. VQL is a query language, and VEPL is an event processing language View full abstract»

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