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Issue No. 06 - November/December (2009 vol. 15)
ISSN: 1077-2626
pp: 1121-1128
Michael Bostock , Stanford University
Jeffrey Heer , Stanford University
Despite myriad tools for visualizing data, there remains a gap between the notational efficiency of high-level visualization systems and the expressiveness and accessibility of low-level graphical systems. Powerful visualization systems may be inflexible or impose abstractions foreign to visual thinking, while graphical systems such as rendering APIs and vector-based drawing programs are tedious for complex work. We argue that an easy-to-use graphical system tailored for visualization is needed. In response, we contribute Protovis, an extensible toolkit for constructing visualizations by composing simple graphical primitives. In Protovis, designers specify visualizations as a hierarchy of marks with visual properties defined as functions of data. This representation achieves a level of expressiveness comparable to low-level graphics systems, while improving efficiency--the effort required to specify a visualization--and accessibility--the effort required to learn and modify the representation. We substantiate this claim through a diverse collection of examples and comparative analysis with popular visualization tools.
Information visualization, user interfaces, toolkits, 2D graphics.

J. Heer and M. Bostock, "Protovis: A Graphical Toolkit for Visualization," in IEEE Transactions on Visualization & Computer Graphics, vol. 15, no. , pp. 1121-1128, 2009.
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