Upcoming .NetMap Features

Oct 14, 2008 at 5:04 PM

Those who find the .NetMap Excel Template useful might be interested in what's planned for future versions.  We have two major feature additions in the pipeline.

I'm currently working on what we're calling "dynamic filters," which are a set of "range sliders" that can be adjusted to hide and show vertices and edges in real time.  By "real time," I mean you don't have to click the Read Workbook button to see the results -- they happen as soon as you move a slider.  If you have a "Tie Strength" column on the Edges worksheet, for example, a Tie Strength range slider will let you show only those edges with a tie strength between 2 and 100.  Move the upper slider from 100 to 50, and some of the edges will immediately disappear from the graph pane.

The dynamic filters are based on research done at the University of Maryland by Drs. Adam Perer and Ben Shneiderman.  Ben and Adam are working with us on the design.

The second major feature, which I'll begin shortly after the first version of dynamic filters is done, involves rewriting the graph pane in Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) code.  This probably isn't of much interest to Excel Template users and in fact the graph pane will pretty much look the same after the rewrite, except that WPF facilitates smooth zooming into the graph.  Thus, we'll finally have the zoom in/out feature that many users have asked for.

If you're interested in either of these features, you can subscribe to all threads in this discussion list.  I'll post notices as new versions are released.

-- Tony
(Software developer on the .NetMap team at Microsoft Research)

Oct 15, 2008 at 9:41 PM
For WPF, are you planning on adding any kind of 'virtualization' support? Large number of vertices in graph but only a small subset being displayed (i.e. partial drawing, partial layout algorithams, etc.)..
Oct 15, 2008 at 11:07 PM
Edited Oct 16, 2008 at 1:54 AM
No, at least not in the first version.  The WPF control will initially just duplicate the functionality of the current Windows Forms control, with the addition of zooming.

We're not positioning .NetMap to handle more than a few thousand vertices for now.  Any more than that, and we suggest that people use Excel's filtering facilities to reduce the vertex and edge lists before they get to the graph.  This certainly isn't ideal for all scenarios, but it keeps the .NetMap code simple.

That's not to say that some industrious programmer couldn't extend our code to support virtualization and large-scale graphs.  That was one of our goals in posting .NetMap to CodePlex: to invite others to build on what we've done.

-- Tony