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International Journal on Digital Libraries

, Volume 2, Issue 2–3, pp 79–90 | Cite as

The end of zero-hit queries: query previews for NASA’s Global Change Master Directory

  • Stephan Greene
  • Egemen Tanin
  • Catherine Plaisant
  • Ben Shneiderman
  • Lola Olsen
  • Gene Major
  • Steve Johns
Original article: Browsing and searching

Abstract

The Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory (HCIL) of the University of Maryland and NASA have collaborated over three years to refine and apply user interface research concepts developed at HCIL in order to improve the usability of NASA data services. The research focused on dynamic query user interfaces, visualization, and overview + preview designs. An operational prototype, using query previews, was implemented with NASA’s Global Change Master Directory (GCMD), a directory service for earth science datasets. Users can see the histogram of the data distribution over several attributes and choose among attribute values. A result bar shows the cardinality of the result set, thereby preventing users from submitting queries that would have zero hits. Our experience confirmed the importance of metadata accuracy and completeness. The query preview interfaces make visible the problems or gaps in the metadata that are undetectable with classic form fill-in interfaces. This could be seen as a problem, but we think that it will have a long-term beneficial effect on the quality of the metadata as data providers will be compelled to produce more complete and accurate metadata. The adaptation of the research prototype to the NASA data required revised data structures and algorithms.

Key words: Query preview – Graphical user interface – Browsing – Earth science – Metadata 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephan Greene
    • 1
  • Egemen Tanin
    • 1
  • Catherine Plaisant
    • 1
  • Ben Shneiderman
    • 1
  • Lola Olsen
    • 2
  • Gene Major
    • 3
  • Steve Johns
    • 3
  1. 1.Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, A.V. Williams building, College Park, MD 20742, USA; E-mail: greene@las-inc.comUSA
  2. 2.NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 902, Greenbelt, MD 20770, USA; E-mail: olsen@gcmd.gsfc.nasa.govUSA
  3. 3.Global Change Master Directory, Raytheon ITSS, 4500 Forbes Blvd., Lanham, MD 20706, USA; E-mail: major@gcmd.gsfc.nasa.govUSA

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