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VisiCube As A Data Microscope

In my attempt to make VisiCube both powerful and easy to use, I chose to model the visualization aspect of VisiCube after a microscope. VisiCube is a data microscope, a tool that allows you to look at your data, in whole or in part, and to do so through high-resolution, accurate images.

Specimens
First, though each project is based on a fixed universe of data (which you define), VisiCube provides you the ability to define any subset, without limitation, of the data in that universe and then to use any such subsets in the visuals which you construct. Each such visual, then, is a microscopic slide. The data presented in a slide can be all of the data in the universal set or any of its subsets. Further, you can use various presentation techniques to highlight, contrast, and compare various subsets as they intersect the visualized data set.

Microscopes
Second, VisiCube provides a variety of virtual microscopes to utilize in viewing any particular slide. A core part of VisiCube is this turret of microscopes, each one with its own unique ability to bring out a different aspect of your data. But the number of choices is not great. This helps keep your exploration simple, but there is another more important reason. Though a wide variety of graphs can be found in various analysis tools and chart generators, there are actually only a very few ways to graph data clearly and correctly. The landmark book, The Elements of Graphing Data by William S. Cleveland (Hobart Press, 1994), is the inspiration for many of the graphic ideas used in VisiCube. Chapter 4 of this book, "Graphical Perception", has been an authoritative reference for the design of VisiCube's microscopes. The section named "Pop Charts" should be read by anyone who wonders why VisiCube does not provide the typical pie charts and bar charts found in many analysis tools.

Analysis
The process of analysis with VisiCube then, is a process in which you bring any of the available microscopes to bear on any of your data set specimens. Once the microscope and data set have been selected, you can adjust the aim and focus of the particular microscope so that the most important aspects of the specimen are revealed.

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