DATA VISUALIZATION FOR TASK ANALYSIS


D3.js/ P5.js | FALL 2016

A prototype for 3D Visualization to analyze and improvise tasks in a complex system. This project was developed in the Experimental Visualization Lab at UC Santa Barbara in collaboration with Control Point, Santa Barbara for a 1-3 year Mission Planning.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION
PROCESS

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The project’s goal was to develop a visualization for Task Analysis where every task is defined by certain parameters, which were defined by a set of sample data points. The visualization is representative of a system of tasks, represented by strategically placed n-sided polygons and the dependencies represented by connecting white lines. In order to enable the visualizer to closely look into the visualization, required interactions are put into place for the visualization.
The project development cycle was distributed into prototyping and development. The prototyping was a process of brainstorming and coming up with a system to visualize these complex tasks. The development phase was the part wherein the 2D working analog of this prototype was developed for the web. The final development is done on D3.js to make a working application for the web and the prototyping was done in Adobe Photoshop.

Technical Information

The final visualization is developed as an interactive web page using HTML, CSS and JS (D3.js).The following functions are the important functions used in the visualizatio:
  1. n_faced_polygon(x, y, radius, number_of_points) : To get coordinates for polygons construction . x is the start_date, y is the workload, radius is the expected duration and number of points are the number of resources.
  2. polygon_progress(task_number,progress,x,y,points_for_polygon,number_of_points) : This is to get the coordinates of the progress polygon . The inputs required for this are the task_number (which data point). Progress is calculated in real time and this function is called for the progress polygon construction. x is the start_date, y is the workload, points_for_polygon is the output of the n_faced_polygon, the number of points is the number of resources.
  3. axis_construction() : To construct the x and y-axis and make global x and y scales for the visualization.
  4. task_polygon_drawn(id) : Draw the polygons on the canvas given the id of the task.
  5. tasks_progress_drawing(refresh_current_date) : Draw the progress polygon in real time given the current time.
  6. interconnections_drawn() : Draw the interconnections between the tasks.
  7.  human_resources_drawing() : Draw the human resource extensions from the task.
 

PROCESS

PROTOTYPE 

The first prototype was developed imagining the visualization to be a 3D visualization. One of the first sketches made for this prototype is the Sketch1. This was then later projected onto a photoshop file.
STAGE 1: TASK DESCRIPTION
A task was represented by an n-faced polyhedron, every face representing a resource. This was a major contribution to the visualization, as it helped the user make conclusions about the complexity by simply comprehending the shape of the task. More spherical the polyhedron, more complex was the task. Also, the size of the polyhedron represented the relative duration of the task. Longer the task, bigger the polyhedron. The rightmost point of the polyhedron was the end of the task and the leftmost point of the task was the start of the task.
 
image1.png
 
STAGE 2: TASK PLACEMENT
Next, every task was strategically placed in a 3D space. The x- coordinate was the start and end of the task in time, the y-coordinate was thought of to be representing the workload, which was a parameter ranging from 0 to 1. Finally, the z-axis was the risk, where the risk decreases as per the left-hand coordinate system. This helped in placing the risky tasks in front of the less risky tasks, enabling the user to spend more resources on the more risky tasks.
 
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STAGE 3: TASK AND RESOURCE RELATIONSHIPS
The tasks are followed and succeeded by predecessors and successors which form an important part of the system and are represented by the interconnection between these task structures. These relationships are considered as resources to a task. Every output of a task which is an input to another task is represented as a face of the polyhedron.This brings us to another important resource, the human resource. These are represented by protruding lines ending with a colored sphere. The sphere color representing the department of the human resource.
 
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STAGE 4: HANDLING CONFLICTS AND PROGRESS
When two resources are being simultaneously used by two tasks, or probably when the input resource to a task, is not ready as the predecessor task has not been finished, a conflict arises. In such cases, the face of the polyhedron representing the conflict associated resource is highlighted. Also, the progress of every task at the current time is represented by the volumetric filling of the polyhedrons.
 
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STAGE 5: INTERACTIONS
Finally, the prototype interactions had to be put into place. The complete visualization was in a 3D space, which could have different views controlled by the mouse, giving a peasy cam kind of an effect. The cycle of every task, its predecessors, and successors along with the interconnection are highlighted for clear viewing when any task is selected.
 

 DEVELOPMENT
 
The next step was to make a working 2D model of the prototype developed on a web-based platform. This was done with the help of the data visualization library in Javascript, D3.js.
  
STAGE 1: DATA GENERATION
The first part was creating the working model, was to develop fake dataset and deciding what parameters would be required to describe each dataset. As the project was being developed on javascript, the data is more is converted from a CSV and stored into a JSON format file, using the parser written for this application.
Each data point looks like:
 
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Workload and Risk are parameters ranging from 0 -1 respectively. The expected duration is the pre-calculated time expectation for the task given that all the resources required by the task are available at the beginning of the task. The Task_Name is the title of the task used to identify the task. The Start_Date is the timestamp of when the task begins. Resources is a list of the resources required by the task for its completion. Every resource has two components, an alphabet, and a number. The alphabet representing the type of resource and the number indexing the resource. H stands for Human resource and the number represents the which resource are we listing here. O represents output resource. These are resources which are an output of another task, which is the number on the “O” resource. R are general logistical resources required for the task and the number indexes these resources. Task_Description is an unused data parameter, which at any point can be used to describe the task.
 
STAGE 2: PORTING 3D TO 2D
The next part was to make the analog of the 3D prototype in 2D, to create the visualization on D3, which helps in efficient data binding.
 
1. Task Shape: The task is now represented by an n-sided polygon, every side representing a resource. The polygon derived from a circle geometry divided to make n-sides. The polygon is drawn such that the radius is half of the expected duration so that the complete vertical length of the polygon is expected the duration of the task. The human resources are handled in a special manner, they are highlighted more by using a straight line protruding out with a colored circle at the end of the line, the color of the circle representing the human resource index.
 
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2. Task Placement: The task is placed in 2D space, where the x-axis is the time and y-axis is the workload.The leftmost point of the circle/polygon is the Start_Date on the x-axis and the rightmost point of the circle/polygon is the end_date = start_date + expected_duration.
 
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3. Interconnections: The task interconnections are represented by the lines connecting the resources of the tasks. If the line starts from the vertex of the task, it implies the output of that task ( represented by O ) is being considered and it acts as an input resource for the connecting task. If the line ends at the face of a resource as marked by I that indicates the input resource to that task.
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4. Progress and Conflicts: The progress of every task is calculated in real time and is indicated by area filling of the polygon. The figure below is 40% of the task being completed. A new polygon, ABCDE is constructed in real time as per the progress . 40% of the area is identified by finding 40% of the diameter length and extending that in both directions to intersect with the task polygon.
 
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5. Interactions: The user can interact with the system by animating the time. The time starts and stops by the pressing space bar and can forwarding or reversed by using the left and right arrow marks.
 
 

 INTERACTIVE WEB APP