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
Visualization Toolkits and Libraries
- Graph Interface Library (GINY) - Java
- Gravisto: Graph Visualization Toolkit - An editor and toolkit for developing graph visualization algorithms.
- HyperGraph - Hyperbolic trees, in Java. Check out the home page. Try clicking on the logo...
- InfoViz Toolkit - Java, originally developed at INRA.
- Jdigrah - Java Directed Graphs.
- JGraphT - A Java visualization kit designed to be simple and extensible.
- Linguine Maps - An open-source Java-based system for visualizing software call maps.
- Perfuse - A Java-based toolkit for building interactive information visualization applications
- Rox Graph Theory Framework - An open-source plug-in framework for graph theory visualization.
- TouchGraph - Library for building graph-based interfaces.
- VisAD - A Java component library for interactive and collaborative visualization.
- The Visualization Toolkit - C++ multi-platform with interfaces available for Tcl/Tk, Java and Python. Professional support provided by Kitware.
- Zoomable Visual Transformation Machine - Java. Originally started at Xerox Research Europe.
- Processing.org - A new language for doing graphics and visualization.
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
- Graphviz - Originally developed by the AT&T Information Visualization Gorup, designed for drawing connected graphs of nodes and edges. Neato is a similar system but does layout based on a spring model. Can produce output as PostScript, PNG, GIF, or as an annotated graph file with the locations of all of the objects — ideal for drawing in a GUI. Runs from the command line on Unix, Windows and Mac, although there is also a MacOS GUI version.
- Guess: The Graph Exploration System - Originally developed at HP, this is a large Jython/Java-based system that you can use for building your own applications. Distributed under GPL.
- InfoVis Cyberinfrastructure - Another graph drawing system written in Java.
- Java Universal Network/Graph Framework (JUNG) - Graphing, data mining, social network analysis, and other stuff.
- Krackplot - "KrackPlot is a program for network visualization designed for social network analysts."
- Large Graph Layout (LGL) - A bioinformatics system from University of Texas. They really mean Large.
- MultiNet - A data analysis package for drawing conventional data and graph data.
- NetDraw - "a free program written by Steve Borgatti for visualizing both 1-mode and 2-mode social network data."
- NetVis 2D - Another graph visualization and layout tool written in Java.
- OpenDX - Based on IBM's Visualization Data Explorer, runs on Unix/X11/Motif.
- Pajek - Windows program for drawing large networks.
- Social Network Image Animator (SoNIA) - Originally developed at Stanford. Written in Java. Makes movies.
- WilmaScope - Real-time animations of dynamic graph structures. Written in Java. Sophisticated force model with strings and attraction.
- Walrus - A 3-d graph network exploration tool. Employs 3D hyperbolic displays and layout based on a user-supplied spanning tree.
Geographical Drawing Programs
- 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.
Journals and Conferences
- GVU's Information Visualization Resources link farm
- Google Directory of Graph Drawing Software
- GNU Free Software directory of scientific visualization software
- Open Source Graph Network Visualization in Java
- INSNA's web page of Computer Programs for Social Network Analysis