Scalable Constructive Visualization Tools Considering agency and data granularity in the design of visualization tools


Previous research has identified trade-offs when it comes to designing visualization tools. While constructive bottom-up tools promote a hands-on, user-driven design process that enables a deep understanding and control of the visual mapping, automated tools are more efficient and allow people to rapidly explore complex alternative designs, often at the cost of transparency. We investigate how to design visualization tools that support a user-driven, transparent design process while enabling efficiency and automation, through a series of design workshops that looked at how both visualization experts and novices approach this problem. Participants produced a variety of solutions that range from example-based approaches expanding constructive visualization to solutions in which the visualization tool infers solutions on behalf of the designer, e.g., based on data attributes. On a higher level, these findings highlight agency and granularity as dimensions that can guide the design of visualization tools in this space.

Study Material

Intro to InfoVis Video:

Datasets and Tasks:

Oil dataset

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Movies dataset

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Version of iVoLVER used in this study:




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Gonzalo Gabriel Méndez

Gonzalo is a PhD student at the University of St Andrews. He holds a master degree in Computer Science from the Free University of Brussels and completed his bachelor in Computer Science at the Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral (ESPOL) in Guayaquil, Ecuador. His previous research includes education and learning technologies. Gonzalo is currently focused on the design, development and evaluation of visualization tools to support visual data analysis and extraction.

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Miguel A. Nacenta

Dr. Miguel Nacenta has been a University of St Andrews lecturer since May 2011, where he cofounded the SACHI group. Prior to this he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Interactions Lab, University of Calgary. He holds an electrical engineering degree from the Technical University of Madrid and a doctorate from the University of Saskatchewan. His research is focused on developing input and output technology to extend human capabilities.

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Uta Hinrichs

Dr. Uta Hinrichs joined SACHI as a lecturer in June 2015, after working as a Research Fellow at the group. She received her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Calgary, in Canada, where she was with the InnoVis Group. Her research is at the intersection of visualization, HCI, design, the humanities, and art with a focus on designing and studying the use and experience of interactive systems that facilitate the exploration and analysis of data collections from several perspectives.