Protovis: A Graphical Toolkit for Visualization

Michael Bostock and Jeffrey Heer
InfoVis, 2009
Despite myriad tools for visualizing data, there remains a gap between the notational ef?ciency of high-level visualization systems and the expressiveness and accessibility of low-level graphical systems. Powerful visualization systems may be in?exible or impose abstractions foreign to visual thinking, while graphical systems such as rendering APIs and vector-based drawing programs are tedious for complex work. We argue that an easy-to-use graphical system tailored for visualization is needed. In response, we contribute Protovis, an extensible toolkit for constructing visualizations by composing simple graphical primitives. In Protovis, designers specify visualizations as a hierarchy of marks with visual proper ties de?ned as functions of data. This representation achieves a level of expressiveness comparable to low-level graphics systems, while improving ef?ciency —the effor t required to specify a visualization—and accessibility —the effor t required to learn and modify the representation. We substantiate this claim through a diverse collection of examples and comparative analysis with popular visualization tools


This project is known for: vis toolkits