Automating the Design of Graphical Presentations of Relational Information.


The goal of the research described in this paper is to develop an application-independent presentation tool that automatically designs effective graphical presentations (such as bar charts, scatter plots, and connected graphs) of relational information. Two problems are raised by this goal: The codification of graphic design criteria in a form that can be used by the presentation, and the generation of a wide variety of designs so that the presentation tool can accommodate a wide variety of information. The approach described in this paper is based on the view that graphical presentations are sentences of graphical languages. The graphic design issues are codified as expressiveness and effectiveness criteria for graphical languages. Expressiveness criteria determine whether a graphical language can express the desired information. Effectiveness criteria determine whether a graphical language exploits the capabilities of the output medium and the human visual system. A wide variety of designs can be systematically generated by using a compositional algebra that composes a small set of primitive graphical languages. Artificial intelligence techniques are used to implement a prototype presentation tool called APT (A Presentation Tool), which is based on the composition algebra and the graphic design criteria.

Jock D. Mackinlay
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, April 2, 1986
Publication Information: 
ACM Transactions on Graphics, 5(2, April), 110-141. Reprinted in Maybury, M. T. & Wahlster, W. (Eds.) Readings In Intelligent User Interfaces (pp. 193) San Francisco, California: Morgan-Kaufmann (1999) and Card, S. K., Mackinlay, J. D., & Shneiderman, B.