Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, December 3, 2002

Treemaps Help You Separate The Trees From The Data Forest

= breakthrough tool
Software Tool (Win)

SequoiaView is a file mapping and disk browsing tool that utilizes advanced data visualization techniques (treemaps) to allow the end user to view, manage and organize hard disk space in a completely new and more effective fashion.

Invented by Jack van Wijk SequoiaView allows the end user to navigate all of its hard disk space in a completely visual information space made up of rectangles of various sizes (corresponding to directories and file size) and ridges (showing size of contents).

The view once inside SequoiaView is simply astounding. The whole 20 GB of my portable hard disk are displayed in one visual page through a myriad of rectangles of different colors and sizes. As I hover with my mouse on any of the rectangles I am informed about the file or directory that rectangle represents, and I am also given information about its size.

I immediately spotted my largest file being an outlook.pst file of 698 MB. Go and find that out with Windows Explorer and tell me how minutes it takes you.

Double clicking any rectangle will allow you to navigate down through nested directories in a snap. Navigation backward is achieved through a button identical to the one available in Windows Explorer.

The interface is extremely simple and well designed, and it offers access to only three simple set of functions:

a) Options - Visualization options including the type of treemap algorithm to use, sorting and highlighting options are grouped under this multitabbed window.



b) ColorScheme - Colors can be set differently for files and directories, and specific file types can be associated to specific colors.

c) Filters - Files and directories can be sorted according to different criteria and to ascending or descending order.
Files can be filtered on name, size as well as creation, modification or last access date or any combination of these.

As pointed out, the main advantage derived by the utilization of this visualization approach on a disk mapping tool is the fact that the end user can get a "global" view of its mass storage area, which is normally impossible when utilizing Windows Explorer.

Other positive benefits of utilizing treemaps to visualize data, are the fact that end users can now more easily discern which directories take up most space, and where large files are sitting. All of this at-a-glance.

A note of clarification is important: in SequoiaView files and directories can be selected, inspected and opened, but they cannot be modified directly.

SequoiaView was developed based on research done by the Visualization Section of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science at the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven.

Download a free copy of SequoiaView 1.2 or 1.3 for WinXP at: (515 KB)

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posted by Robin Good on Tuesday, December 3 2002, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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