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Visualization Authoring for Data-driven Storytelling


Data-driven storytelling is the process of communicating insights and findings that are supported by data, forming a visualization-based narrative. However, most current visualization creation tools either only support fixed sets of designs or require an in-depth understanding of programming concepts. To enable non-programmers to create custom visualizations for data-driven storytelling, we design interactions and implement user interfaces for visualization authoring. In the first part of this dissertation, we introduce and evaluate a series of three visualization authoring tools using traditional user interfaces: (1) iVisDesigner, which uses a data-flow model and enables users to author visualizations by specifying mappings from data to graphics interactively; (2) ChartAccent, a tool for annotating a given visualization; and (3) Charticulator, which allows users to design custom layouts interactively. We then reflect on the evaluation of visualization authoring user interfaces. In the second part of the dissertation, we extend our approach to multiple presentation media or display environments, including traditional 2-dimensional screens, large projection-based virtual-reality (VR) systems, and head-mounted virtual/augmented reality displays (HMDs). To leverage such immersive visualization environments, we ported and extended the iVisDesigner authoring approach to projection-based virtual reality. To facilitate the development of immersive visualizations, we built a visualization library called Stardust, which provides a familiar API to utilize GPU processing power in a cross-platform way. Finally, we present Idyll-MR, a system for authoring data-driven stories in virtual and augmented reality. We evaluated these authoring tools and libraries, and demonstrated high expressiveness, usability, and performance, as well as portability across platforms. In summary, our contributions enable larger audiences to create visual data-driven stories using different presentation media, leading to an overall enriched diversity of visualization designs.

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