UBC Faculty Research and Publications

VisArchive: a time and relevance based visual interface for searching, browsing, and exploring project archives Hu, Keyun; Staub-French, Sheryl; Tory, Melanie; Nepal, Madhav P

Abstract

Background: Project archives are becoming increasingly large and complex. On construction projects in particular, the increasing amount of information and the increasing complexity of its structure make searching and exploring information in the project archive challenging and time-consuming. Methods This research investigates a query-driven approach that represents new forms of contextual information to help users understand the set of documents resulting from queries of construction project archives. Specifically, this research extends query-driven interface research by representing three types of contextual information: (1) the temporal context is represented in the form of a timeline to show when each document was created; (2) the search-relevance context shows exactly which of the entered keywords matched each document; and (3) the usage context shows which project participants have accessed or modified a file. Results We implemented and tested these ideas within a prototype query-driven interface we call VisArchive. VisArchive employs a combination of multi-scale and multi-dimensional timelines, color-coded stacked bar charts, additional supporting visual cues and filters to support searching and exploring historical project archives. The timeline-based interface integrates three interactive timelines as focus + context visualizations. Conclusions The feasibility of using these visual design principles is tested in two types of project archives: searching construction project archives of an educational building project and tracking of software defects in the Mozilla Thunderbird project. These case studies demonstrate the applicability, usefulness and generality of the design principles implemented.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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