The Semantic Web – ISWC 2013

Volume 8218 of the series Lecture Notes in Computer Science pp 117-134

Indented Tree or Graph? A Usability Study of Ontology Visualization Techniques in the Context of Class Mapping Evaluation

  • Bo FuAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science, University of Victoria
  • , Natalya F. NoyAffiliated withStanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research, Stanford University
  • , Margaret-Anne StoreyAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science, University of Victoria


Research effort in ontology visualization has largely focused on developing new visualization techniques. At the same time, researchers have paid less attention to investigating the usability of common visualization techniques that many practitioners regularly use to visualize ontological data. In this paper, we focus on two popular ontology visualization techniques: indented tree and graph. We conduct a controlled usability study with an emphasis on the effectiveness, efficiency, workload and satisfaction of these visualization techniques in the context of assisting users during evaluation of ontology mappings. Findings from this study have revealed both strengths and weaknesses of each visualization technique. In particular, while the indented tree visualization is more organized and familiar to novice users, subjects found the graph visualization to be more controllable and intuitive without visual redundancy, particularly for ontologies with multiple inheritance.


Ontology visualization indented tree graph usability study