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19 marzo 2012

Visualizing XML trees with QXmlEdit

Filed under: qxmledit,xml — lbell @ 22:36

Why to view XML using letters only?

Exploring big XML files trying to understand how the data are distributed in the file is difficult when the size of the files is relevant respect to the available memory.

Basically there are three points that are interesting in dimensions and distribution:

  • Data size.
  • Number of children.
  • Tree deep.

Given that the XML structure is a hierarchical one, in principle there is no difference between visualization and exploration of a XML structure and exploration of datasets used in other fields from the physics to the biology; there are already a lot of well known methods to handle this type of data, from data handling to image processing.

What is missing in a typical XML editor are visualization modes to give an idea of how the data are distributed at a bird’s eye view. The textual or tree map representation are often or too detailed, or not detailed enough.
QXmlEdit under development will show the data graphically giving the possibility to the user to use its eyes to evaluate the data, losing the details in a zoom out or delving deeper to investigate data structure.

To form the map the following data transformations are done:

The tree is converted in a grid, de-normalizing it.

Let’s suppose to have these start data, the following transformation is applied.

After that, the rows with the same logical data can be regrouped as in a tree map. The color of each cell can be the value of the observed quantity.

The map can be zoomed and navigated, selecting an area or descending in hierarchical mode.

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