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Executive Summary

Overview Report

Main Report



  Visualizing the



Bibliographic History

Review of Visualization in the Social Sciences: Main Report

Visualization Software on the Web

The Web contains a vast amount of graphical and visualization software which is available free of charge, or almost free of charge. The GNU family of products, for example, is available through the Free Software Foundation [72]. However, the range of quality of free visualization software on the Web is huge [30], with a significant amount designed by students or amateur programmers. Software produced for personal use or to satisfy a research project tends to suffer from several problems. The design may have been specified on an ad hoc basis because the programmers learned as they went along or lacked the time to start again. The code frequently has been tested only minimally, may break easily when modified in minor ways, and often has important features missing. For these reasons, this kind of software also tends to be "orphaned" rapidly. Amateur programmers usually have no motive to document and explain their products for others, and have no reason to respond to bug reports and modification requests or to clarify implicit assumptions. According to Uselton [30], the most effective concise statement about acquiring and using free software is, "give it a try, but don't count on it to solve all your problems.". Nevertheless, there is some excellent software available.

An excellent annotated index to websites that allow shareware graphics and visualization software to be downloaded can be found at Another good gateway for free software for general visualization can be found on the Frontiers of Visualization Web Pages [30], which also has links to academic and government research sites.

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