Visualization of large nested graphs in 3D: Navigation and Interaction


Most systems for visualizing large information structures use 2D graphics to view networks of nodes and arcs that represent data. To understand large structures it is often necessary to show both small-scale and large-scale structures. This has been called the problem of focus and context. Distortion, rapid zooming, elision and multiple windows are all techniques that have been developed to provide both focus and context within single representations. We review these techniques and argue that 3D visualization has a number of advantages. A system called NestedVision3D (NV3D) will be presented that has been developed to investigate the use of 3D visualization for understanding the structure of large computer programs.

NV3D is a system for visualizing large nested graphs using interactive 3D graphics. It has been tested with graphs containing more than 35,000 nodes and 100,000 relationships. We describe NV3D and its design philosophy. Basic navigation is facilitated by a set of 3D widgets, rapid scaling and interactive elision. More experimental features include animations called snakes, which are used to trace dynamic software behavior.

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Journal of Visual Languages and Computing


9, Issue 3



Publisher Place

New York, NY, USA



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article


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