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Improving Business Efficiency through Information Visualization

10,000 3,000

Topic Description

Summary
Information has become one of the most valuable commodities in this new era of fast, permanent communication networks. However, information in a vacuum is worthless; only by successfully applying this information can a business gain commercial advantage. This project considers ways in which information can be visualized.
Research has been conducted into designing novel information visualization methods, yet almost all have failed to make any commercial or widespread impact. One might postulate that computer users value familiar interfaces and interaction methods over questionable efficiency improvements. Hence, the problem still remains: How can business efficiency be improved through information visualization whilst providing intuitive interfaces and interaction methods?
The overall aim of this project is to develop a software application for information visualization. The software should exhibit an original information visualization method and not be an implementation of an existing method. It should cater for the visualization of information in the form of common business documents (Word files, Images, Web Pages, etc.). It will be designed and developed using the most appropriate methodologies and will run on the most appropriate desktop platform.

Table of Contents
Summary…………………………………………………………………………………………………….ii
Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………………………………….iii
Table of Contents……………………………………………………………………………………….iv
1.0 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………..1
1.1 Statement of the Problem………………………………………………………………………………….1
1.2 Aim………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..1
1.3 Objectives………………………………………………………………………………………………………2
1.4 Minimum Requirements……………………………………………………………………………………3
2.0 Background Research……………………………………………………………………………4
2.1 An Overview of Information Visualization…………………………………………………………….4
2.1.1 The Information Visualization Process………………………………………………………………………..5
2.2 Psychological Factors………………………………………………………………………………………5
2.2.1 Why Pictures are better than Text……………………………………………………………………………..6
2.2.2 Internal Models………………………………………………………………………………………………………..6
2.2.4 Information Visualization Techniques……………………………………………………………….7
2.3 Existing Information Visualization Methods………………………………………………………….8
2.3.1 Mind Maps………………………………………………………………………………………………………………8
2.3.2 Hyperbolic Browser………………………………………………………………………………………………….9
2.3.3 Cone Trees…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..10
3.0 Concept Documents…………………………………………………………………………….11
3.1 Information Visualization in Business………………………………………………………………..11
3.2.1 Improving Business Efficiency…………………………………………………………………………………11
3.2.2 Common Business Documents………………………………………………………………………………..13
3.2 Use of Existing Solutions…………………………………………………………………………………13
3.3 Detailed Specification……………………………………………………………………………………..15
3.3.1 Architecture…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..15
3.3.2 Persistence Method……………………………………………………………………………………………….16
3.3.3 Concepts………………………………………………………………………………………………………………17
3.3.4 Concept Tree………………………………………………………………………………………………………..18
3.3.5 Views……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………18
3.3.6 Example Concept Document…………………………………………………………………………………..19
4.0 Project Management…………………………………………………………………………….20
4.1 Software Engineering Methodology………………………………………………………………….20
4.1.1 The Waterfall Method……………………………………………………………………………………………..20 © Nicholas Hoddinott 2002 – 2003 iv
Table of Contents
4.1.2 The Spiral Model……………………………………………………………………………………………………21
4.1.3 The Rational Unified Process………………………………………………………………………………….21
4.2 Modelling Language……………………………………………………………………………………….22
4.3 Iterations………………………………………………………………………………………………………22
4.4 Project Tasks and Phases……………………………………………………………………………….23
5.0 Analysis………………………………………………………………………………………………24
5.1 Commercially Available Alternatives…………………………………………………………………24
5.1.1 MindManager………………………………………………………………………………………………………..24
5.1.2 TheBrain……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….25
5.2 Target Operating System………………………………………………………………………………..25
5.2.1 Microsoft Windows…………………………………………………………………………………………………25
5.2.2 Linux…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….26
5.2.3 Decision and Justification……………………………………………………………………………………….26
5.3 Development Platform…………………………………………………………………………………….26
5.3.1 MFC……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..26
5.3.2 Java……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..27
5.3.3 .NET…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….27
5.3.4 Decision and Justification……………………………………………………………………………………….28
5.4 User Requirements………………………………………………………………………………………..29
5.4.1 Use Case……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..29
5.4.2 Use Case Descriptions……………………………………………………………………………………………30
5.4.3 Manage Information Use Case Description……………………………………………………………….31
6.0 Design…………………………………………………………………………………………………32
6.1 System Requirements…………………………………………………………………………………….32
6.1.1 Essential……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….32
6.1.2 Desirable………………………………………………………………………………………………………………33
6.1.2 Optional………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..33
6.2 System Architecture……………………………………………………………………………………….33
6.3 ConceptDocument Component………………………………………………………………………..35
6.4 ConceptDocControl Component………………………………………………………………………36
6.5 CommonDocHandler Component…………………………………………………………………….37
6.5 User Interface Design……………………………………………………………………………………..38
7.0 Implementation…………………………………………………………………………………….40
7.1 Iteration 1……………………………………………………………………………………………………..40
7.1.1 Results of Iteration 1………………………………………………………………………………………………40
7.2 Iteration 2……………………………………………………………………………………………………..41
7.2.1 XML Serialization…………………………………………………………………………………………………..41
7.2.2 ConceptTree…………………………………………………………………………………………………………42 © Nicholas Hoddinott 2002 – 2003 v
7.2.3 Revised Class Diagram…………………………………………………………………………………………..43
7.3 Iteration 3……………………………………………………………………………………………………..44
7.3.1 ConceptDocControl………………………………………………………………………………………………..44
7.3.2 Integration…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….45
7.3.3 The Finished Application…………………………………………………………………………………………47
7.4 Testing…………………………………………………………………………………………………………48
7.4.1 NUnit……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………49
8.0 Evaluation……………………………………………………………………………………………50
8.1 Evaluation Criteria………………………………………………………………………………………….50
8.2 Project Evaluation………………………………………………………………………………………….51
8.2.1 Methodology………………………………………………………………………………………………………….51
8.2.2 Modelling Language……………………………………………………………………………………………….52
8.2.3 Development Platform…………………………………………………………………………………………….52
8.3 System Evaluation………………………………………………………………………………………….53
8.3.1 Originality of the Visualization Method………………………………………………………………………53
8.3.2 Comparison to Commercial Alternatives……………………………………………………………………53
8.3.3 Interface and Interaction…………………………………………………………………………………………53
8.3.4 Application to a Business Situation…………………………………………………………………………..54
8.4 Further Development………………………………………………………………………………………54
8.4.1 Database Serialization……………………………………………………………………………………………54
8.4.2 Web Based Visual Collaboration……………………………………………………………………………..54
8.5 Requirements Fulfilled…………………………………………………………………………………….55
References………………………………………………………………………………………………..56
Appendix A – Personal Reflection………………………………………………………………58
Appendix B – Project Schedule

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