Grammar of Graphics: A New Approach To Visualization

Software solutions have become increasingly graphic over time. This has resulted in an explosion of visualization packages, ranging from basic charting to 3D, big data and GIS visualization. However, these packages still treat each visualization as a separate entity, and struggle to have common behavior across visualizations and platforms. Varying requirements may also lead to the adoption of multiple visualization tools across products in a suite.

The Grammar of Graphics approach allows us to define a language for all types of visualization. This language provides a compromise between the complete flexibility of a graphics package, and the constraints of a charting package with customizable attributes. It provides standardization in configuration and behavior, and at the same time allows us to define representations of the data by simply changing the specification. The language approach to specifying visualization provides much more control to adopters while maintaining consistency. The language approach also allows the same specification to be interpreted across platforms to give consistent appearance and interaction across devices.

The talk will focus on what a language for visualization looks like and what capabilities it introduces over existing charting packages.
Key takeaways: Introduction to a new approach to defining visualization, Understanding limitations in existing visualization systems, Introduction to design for cross platform visualization engines. We will also show some examples from an internal IBM tool.

Karanbir Gujral is an architect/developer with experience in the fields of cloud computing, data center automation, information visualization and graph modeling. He has worked in product development and applied research (ideation and prototyping) groups for most of my career. He has worked on multiple development platforms and languages, but prefers the Java ecosystem.He is currently working as a software architect in the a visualization engine development team in IBM. The team is a part of the Business Intelligence unit, and is championing the use of a single visualization technology across the organization.

This session was presented at the 7th IndicThreads Pune Conference held on 14-15 Dec 2012. Track IndicThreads on Facebook / Twitter for updates on future events.

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