Spreadsheet approach to information visualization

E. H.L.h. Chi, Ph Barry, J. Riedl, Joseph A Konstan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

50 Scopus citations


In information visualization, as the volume and complexity of the data increases, researchers require more powerful visualization tools that enable them to more effectively explore multidimensional datasets. In this paper, we discuss the general utility of a novel visualization spreadsheet framework. Just as a numerical spreadsheet enables exploration of numbers, a visualization spreadsheet enables exploration of visual forms of information. We show that the spreadsheet approach facilitates certain information visualization tasks that are more difficult using other approaches. Unlike traditional spreadsheets, which store only simple data elements and formulas in each cell, a visualization spreadsheet cell can hold an entire complex data set, selection criteria, viewing specifications, and other information needed for a full-fledged information visualization. Similarly, inter-cell operations are far more complex, stretching beyond simple arithmetic and string operations to encompass a range of domain-specific operators. We have built two prototype systems that illustrate some of these research issues. The underlying approach in our work allows domain experts to define new data types and data operations, and enables visualization experts to incorporate new visualizations, viewing parameters, and view operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization
EditorsJ. Dill, N. Gershon
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997
EventProceedings of the 1997 IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization - Phoenix, AZ, USA
Duration: Oct 20 1997Oct 21 1997


OtherProceedings of the 1997 IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization
CityPhoenix, AZ, USA


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