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Although not strictly for forensic purposes, visualization tools such as the ones discussed here can be very useful for visualizing large data sets. As forensic practitioners need to process more and more data, it is likely that some of the techniques implemented by these tools will need to be adopted.

Programming Languages and Developer Toolkits

If you are building forensic tools, you probably want to start with one of these:

Java and Swing
Advantage: Portable and lots of good documentation out there.
Disadvantage: Programs are a bit verbose, and only offers about 1/2 the performance of C
Python with tkinter
Advantage: Portable
Disadvantage: Python is one of the slowest modern languages around.
Python with wxWidgets
Advantage: Portable and a better development environment than tkiner
Disadvantage: wxWidgets is not installed by default, so you'll need to get it installed. Not as well documented as Tkinter
Advantage: Programming language specifically developed for visualization; compiles to java byte code
Disadvantage: Very oddball
JavaFX - Java's version of Flash

Open Source

Visualization Toolkits and Libraries

Tree Maps

Treemaps are a visualization technique developed at the University of Maryland for visualizing large amounts of multi-dimensional data. There is a GPLed implementation of treemaps written in C. You can find a copy of in it:

Graph Drawing Applications

Geographical Drawing Programs

Commercial Tools

  • aiSee Graph Layout Software - Supports 15 layout algorithms, recursive graph nesting, and easy printing. Runs on Windows, Linux, Solaris, NetBSD, and MacOS. 30-day trial and free registered versions available. Academic pricing available.
  • Geomantics - Geographical, Visualization and Graphics software. Runs on Windows.
  • Graphis 2D and 3D graphing software - Runs on Windows. Free 30-day evaluation copy available.
  • OpenViz and PowerViz - Both from Advanced Visual Systems, super high-end visualization toolkits. $$$$
  • Tom Sawyer Software Analysis, Visualizaiton, and Layout programs. - Heavy support for drawing graphs. Beautiful gallery. ActiveX, Java, C++ and .NET editions.
  • NetMiner - "One of the most comprehensive and usable software tools for Social Network Analysis in the world." Runs on Winodws, with a Linux version under development. $35 for "Express" student version, $250 for "Professional" student version, $950 for "Normal" "Professional" version.
  • UCINET - A comprehensive package for the analysis of social network data as well as other 1-mode and 2-mode data.

Other Resources

Journals and Conferences

Link Farms

Research Groups