Graphs, Haskell,

A crazy idea about graph visualisation

I’m currently at, and this morning I went to a talk by Adam Harvey entitled Visualising Scientific Data with HTML5.

Now, one of the packages I maintain is graphviz which suffices at what it does: use Graphviz to visualise graphs using static images. Despite its various problems, I keep using Graphviz because – unlike most of the flashier graph visualisation programs that I’ve found – it doesn’t require a fancy GUI just to convert a pre-existing graph into an image (admittedly, others may have library versions, but most seem to be written in Java and Python, which do not seem as useful in terms of writing Haskell bindings). However, one thing that Graphviz cannot do is let you dynamically visualise graphs, which is especially useful for extremely large graphs (e.g. call graphs).

One of the visualisation toolkits that Adam talked about was the JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit, which seemed quite nice in how you can dynamically interact with the graphs. The graphs are represented using JSON, and the format looks relatively straightforward.

So here’s my possibly crazy idea: does it make sense to create a companion library for graphviz to convert its DotRepr values into JIT-compatible JSON, possibly with some extensions to assist with the visualisation? We already have various libraries for interacting with JavaScript and JSON on HackageDB, so it may be possible to abstract most of the pain of visualising and interacting with graphs on the web into our preferred language. I’m not quite sure how to deal with incompatible/differing attribute values for Dot vs JIT’s JSON, but is this type of avenue worth considering? Such a conversion library would save having to doubly-convert graphs (in case you want static image versions of the visualisations as well).

So, how crazy am I?


LCA bid process opens – Canberra at the ready!

Disclaimers: sorry, Haskellers: no Haskell or graph theory in this blog post. Instead this is about (aka LCA).

For the last several months, a small group of people in Canberra including myself have been preparing a bid for LCA 2013. This is not just to give us more time to make the conference the most awesome, froody LCA you’ve ever been to. No – 2013 is also the centenary of the founding of Canberra as the nation’s capital. It’s a very significant year for us and we’d all be thrilled if we could show the attendees of LCA our great city and Canberrans the great work the FOSS community does to improve everyone’s lives.

So we’re really stoked that the bidding process is going to be opened early, and I think it’ll lead to a really interesting competition that will result, whoever wins, in the best LCA ever!

If you’re interested in getting involved, join the mailing list!