IEEE Transactions Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 12, 6, 1414-1426.
Despite extensive research, it is still difficult to produce effective interactive layouts for large graphs. Dense layout and occlusion make food webs, ontologies, and social networks difficult to understand and interact with. We propose a new interactive Visual Analytics component called TreePlus that is based on a tree-style layout. TreePlus reveals the missing graph structure with visualization and interaction while maintaining good readability. To support exploration of the local structure of the graph and gathering of information from the extensive reading of labels, we use a guiding metaphor of "Plant a seed and watch it grow." It allows users to start with a node and expand the graph as needed, which complements the classic overview techniques than can be effective at - but often limited to - revealing clusters. We describe our design goals, describe the interface, and report on a controlled user study with 28 participants comparing TreePlus with a traditional graph interface for six tasks. In general, the advantage of TreePlus over the traditional interface increased as the density of the displayed data increased. Participants also reported higher levels of confidence in their answers with TreePlus and most of them preferred TreePlus.