Re: VisAD for general data visualization purposes for general users?

--- Bill Hibbard <billh@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Currently
> > core VisAD has been made for 3D visualizations which the current
> > developers are most interested in. 
> VisAD supports both 3-D and 2-D display techniques. Many
> VisAD applications are purely 2-D.

Some of the issues have been addressed in the 
"questions on functionalities of VisAD X-Y style 2D plots"
thread. I think most people would agree that it will not be
considered a serious X-Y plotting package if it doesn't
provide *out of the box* a default set of data point symbols,
nor legend, nor log and log-log scale, nor error bars, nor
coordinate grid, not much selection of plotting style (take
a look at JFreeChart) ... I know with some more work VisAD can do
all these and more, but as it stands, the meat of VisAD is 3D.

> > [quote of the evaluation team's conclusion]
> other systems. What you say is true in the sense that,

if there is a confusion... I wasn't in the evaluation team.
I didn't write the conclusion. I think much higher of
VisAD than they did ;-)

> > I think what VisAD lacks for dealing with its complexity is 1)
> > wrapper
> > classes for casual users that doesn't demand much sophistication,
> to
> > "make simple tasks easy";
> I agree. We are working on them. That's why links to the
> Integrated Data Viewer and VisBio are right at the top of
> the VisAD web page.

I am writing prototype wrappers to simplify X-Y plotting
with VisAD, so that anyone who wants to plot a simple Y-X
figure doesn't have to understand that the data must be passed
from an array to a Set, then to a FlatField, then to a
DataReference, then to the Display. It's crazy.

I haven't looked at VisBio and I don't have a machine good
enough for IDV (requires 512MB RAM reserved for IDV? I only
have 256M in total! And think about the target users of
our system ... could be an astronomer in a small university
of a third world country)

> > 2) better documentation for the outsider
> > developers to "make difficult tasks possible." More specifically,
> the
> > documentation should be all accessible from JavaDocs. The
> > documentation
> > of implementations should refer to the relevant design
> documentation.
> We have been putting a lot of effort into design documents.
> Linking from the JavaDocs will be a huge job, considering
> the size of VisAD.

Sounds like a good summer job for a graduate student :-)

Rationally I think we all know that good documentation saves
future work, not only in the sense that it clears up the developer's
thought about implementation and saves time in question
answering, but also in the "bandwagon" effect -- if more people
can get into VisAD, there will be more serious contributors to
save your effort, and then even more people will jump in. 
Currently there are so many mysterious APIs with no comment or
useless comments, just adding a little more to them would be a
big improvement. I want to say it again -- reading the source
code is NOT the way to figure out the APIs. It's shooting
himself on his feet for anyone developing long term project.
The developers using VisAD shouldn't be expected to do
so. This mailing list is great, but it's not efficient
when the inquirer is novice, both for the asking person and
the answering one. There will be a lot more novices asking
the same question again and again when VisAD becomes more
popular. The search engine of the archive often returns
results which I suspect are obsolete compared with the
current release. Better documentation is the way to go. Some
funding should go to this end in my opinion. It'll be money
well spent.

That being said, thanks for replying. This list a "selling point"
for VisAD.

Maohai Huang (oh, the yahoo address is an anti-spammer if any
one wants to contact me directly please use mh (at] astro 
"." ts "." it)

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