Since there was a recent mention of visualization here, I thought it may be useful to open a discussion on that.
Some of you may know about Sterling, a visualizer for Alloy built by @tristan during his PhD under John Baugh at NCSU. Tristan is now a post-doc at Brown with @tim and me, where he’s continuing this work.
Sterling is a web-based visualizer for Alloy that introduces some additional features that aim to make your instances a little easier to work with and understand. Most notably, these include the ability to move nodes out of the rows in which they are initially placed, as well as consistent node placement when stepping through projections.
If you’d like to see some of these features in action, there’s a brief tour that includes a few video demonstrations. There’s also an online demo version with some built-in instances to explore, or you can upload an XML file from your own model (note that the evaluator is not functional in the demo, as it’s not connected to Alloy!).
The Sterling visualizer is rather portable, and can be used to visualize Alloy-like data regardless of the source. We are using it in another tool at Brown (which we’d like to publicize soon).
This thread seems like a great place to open up a visualization discussion and to coordinate efforts for those of us who are working on visualization related tools. So let’s start with two questions:
- What are some features you would find useful in an Alloy visualizer?
- Is a directed graph representation good enough for your needs, or are there other visual representations that might be better (tables, text, something custom)?
For those who are also working on visualization tools:
- What visualization problems are you addressing, and what impact will your tools have on the broader Alloy community?
We know @DanielJackson has a student working on visualization; we’d love to hear from others with interests as well.