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Visualisation of historical events using Lexis pencils
7. The need for new tools
It is clear that most social scientists will not have access to AVS to use our AVS software module on their own datasets. AVS is an expensive software product and will not take priority in a list of essential software in the social sciences. Even if AVS is provided at their institution, it is not an easy package to use, and navigation around a 3-D world is not easy. We chose a scientific visualisation system originally as we wanted the ability to zoom, pan, and fly into a set of 3-D objects. Such facilities are now provided by VRML viewers and are far easier to use.
The next stage in this work is therefore to abandon AVS entirely as the visualisation engine.
Our AVS module currently reads event history data and processes it, before passing it to the AVS 'Geometry viewer'. This can be replicated by a window based user interface which will read and process the dataset, and which can generate VRML code. This code can be passed to a VRML viewer to provide the current user view. VRML viewers such as Cosmoplayer can already act as plugins for browsers such as Netscape, and could additionally plug in to this application. A language such as tcl/tk would be a good application generator and provides speedy development and customisable user interfaces in a variety of computing environments, including Windows, UNIX, and MacOS.
Graphics Multimedia Virtual Environments Visualisation Contents