Octilinear Force-Directed Layout with Mental Map Preservation for Schematic Diagrams
We present an algorithm for automatically laying out metro map style schematics using a force-directed approach, where we use a localized version of the standard spring embedder forces combined with an octilinear magnetic force. The two types of forces used during layout are naturally conflicting, and the existing method of simply combining these to generate a resultant force does not give satisfactory results. Hence we vary the forces, emphasizing the standard forces in the beginning to produce a well distributed graph, with the octilinear forces becoming prevalent at the end of the layout, to ensure that the key requirement of line angles at intervals of 45° is obtained. Our method is considerably faster than the more commonly used search-based approaches, and we believe the results are superior to the previous force-directed approach. We have further developed this technique to address the issues of dynamic schematic layout. We use a Delaunay triangulation to construct a schematic “frame”, which is used to retain relative node positions and permits full control of the level of mental map preservation. This technique is the first to combine mental map preservation techniques with the additional layout criteria of schematic diagrams. To conclude, we present the results of a study to investigate the relationship between the level of mental map preservation and the user response time and accuracy.
Keywordsforce directed schematic layout Delaunay triangulation mental map preservation
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