How to choose the right graph visualization partner – part 1

Choosing a graph data visualization technology is a big commitment. You need to be certain that the technology partner you work with is not just a good fit in terms of features, but is also the right choice for a long-term partnership.

In a previous blog we compared open source code libraries with commercial visualization software development kits (SDK) to show you why an SDK like KeyLines should be the obvious choice.

This time, we look at three high-level questions you should consider when choosing a graph visualization partner to make sure they’re up to scratch. Let’s take a look.

1. Is the SDK easy to use?

Having a developer-friendly API makes a huge difference to the success of your project. We’ve helped many developers who’ve turned to us after spending months unsuccessfully hacking with other less user-friendly options. With KeyLines, they made more progress in a few hours than they previously did in a month.

Don’t forget to consider the documentation – is it clear, easy to search and easy to understand? Over the years, we’ve discovered that text-based documentation alone isn’t enough. So, we also provide demos to make developing your application much easier.

Screenshot taken from the KeyLines time bar documentation
Screenshot taken from the KeyLines time bar documentation

We’ve worked hard to make KeyLines easy to use – with excellent documentation and a faster developer experience.

2. Is the partner’s technology proven, reliable and polished?

Another important aspect to bear in mind is quality. Has it been tested in production by many other organizations? Are issues fixed quickly?

Based on our experience of helping hundreds of organizations – from pioneering startups to Fortune 500 companies and national governments – we’ve developed a robust understanding of what our customers require.

Our team of experienced developers are continually finding ways to improve KeyLines with new features and we release updated versions monthly. This ensures that KeyLines works with the latest technologies and helps our customers improve their products.

Some of our customers
Some of our customers

3. Will the product’s functionality meet your requirements?

You also need to evaluate the functional capabilities of your potential partner’s technology. Your precise needs will depend on your scenario: your users, data, use case, etc. That said, certain points come up repeatedly, such as:

  • Device and browser support: One of the complexities of building web applications is making sure they work across all your users devices and browsers. We’ve ensured that KeyLines supports the most widely used options.
  • Compatibility: A good technology partner won’t confine you to a particular database or framework. Our SDK is compatible with popular frameworks like React, Vue and AngularJS, graph databases like Neo4j, Titan and JanusGraph – or any other database. This gives you the freedom to build your web application in a way that suits you.
  • Layout and animation: Layouts untangle your data, making graphs more useful and insightful. KeyLines does this really well, with seven layout options. It also enables positions and styling of the chart to be smoothly animated from one state to another, providing greater clarity.
  • Drawing: The ability to customize and style your application can help it stand out. With KeyLines you can style and decorate chart elements to match your application’s look and feel and convey critical information about the underlying data without overwhelming the user.
  • Clutter reduction: Trying to analyze a clump of data is extremely challenging. KeyLines has various features that help you eliminate clutter from charts and help you extract maximum information. Including combos – our powerful node-grouping functionality, filters – ideal for simplifying networks to find hidden structures and outliers, and layouts – mentioned above.
  • With combos an initially tangled network starts to make sense
    With combos an initially tangled network starts to make sense
  • Time visualization: Time is a crucial dimension to graph data. KeyLines’ time bar allows you to filter your network through time and understand how it has evolved.
  • Geospatial visualization: When visualizing connected data on maps you need to unlock an important aspect to your graph data – the location – without losing sight of the connections you need to understand. KeyLines Geospatial is a powerful integration to the SDK giving you a geospatial view of a network on a map and is easy to implement.

Other considerations include whether or not the technology allows for the exporting of the chart to an image file or a JSON file and if the visualization is optimized to take advantage of graphics processing units (GPUs) for instance, by using WebGL. WebGL rendering means KeyLines is a lot more powerful and performs better than other technologies.

You can use the list above to decide which capabilities are important to you. From there you can get closer to deciding whether or not you should work with a potential partner to build your graph visualization application.

Ready, set, decide!

Choosing the right graph visualization partner isn’t a tick-box exercise. The questions in this blog post reflect some of the criteria you should consider and benchmark, but the best way to choose is by trying the technology for yourself. We’ve put together a short guide of the factors you should consider when evaluating graph visualization partners. If you’d like a copy, just get in touch.

Keep an eye out for part two of this blog where we’ll look at three more high-level questions you should consider when choosing a graph visualization partner.

If you’d like to see KeyLines in action and how it can help you build a powerful app, request a free trial below.

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