We then created the sense.us website, which couples the visualizations with collaborative analysis mechanisms (see Figure 12-8). In the left panel is the visualization applet (Figure 12-8a) and annotation tools (Figure 12-8b). The right panel provides a graphical bookmark trail (Figure 12-8c), providing access to views saved by the user, and a discussion area (Figure 12-8d and e), displaying commentary associated with the current view. We augmented the visualizations with a set of collaboration features, described in detail later: view sharing, doubly linked discussions, graphical annotations, bookmark trails, and social navigation via comment listings and user activity profiles.
When collaborating around visualizations, we reasoned that participants must be able to see the same visual environment in order to ground one another's actions and comments. To this aim, sense.us provides a mechanism for bookmarking views. We tried to make application bookmarking transparent by tying it to conventional web bookmarking. The browser's location bar always displays a URL that links to the current state of the visualization, defined by the settings of filtering, navigation, and visual encoding parameters. As the visualization view changes, the URL updates to reflect the current state (Figure 12-8f), simplifying the process of sharing a view through email, blogs, or instant messaging by enabling users to cut-and-paste a link to the current view at any time. To conform ...