A new graph visualization solution: Introducing KeyLines

3rd February, 2012

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Welcome to the KeyLines blog! Here we’ll be blogging on a variety of topics relating to web-based visualization in general. But let’s start by explaining the basic proposition of KeyLines.

For developers:

Lots of developers are either just starting out in JavaScript, or don’t want to make the transition from strongly typed languages like Java & .NET. This isn’t surprising. Environments like Eclipse and Visual Studio have great tooling which makes developers very productive. They might argue that Java & .NET are better for maintainability across the team. We don’t disagree with that – JavaScript is a tricky beast at the best of times.

This is the gap that Adobe Flex/Flash and Silverlight have filled in the past. They’ve allowed developers to stick with familiar environments when making browser-based applications in the enterprise.

Many more developers don’t have direct experience of developing graphical applications. When graphical components are done right they can look deceptively simple to code. It can easy to underestimate the effort needed when positioning pixels precisely, designing animations, exact hit-testing, writing dragging code & eeking out the best performance on a range of browsers.

Developers can pick up KeyLines and with a minimal amount of JavaScript they can have a graphical component embedded in their web application. KeyLines handles all the rendering code & event handling. The developer decides what data should be shown and how.

Developers can keep their server-stack the same: KeyLines is agnostic about where the data comes from. And for the rest of the web application they can keep their own preferred JavaScript framework, whether it be backbone, Dojo, Ember.js, or anything else.

Integrators and project managers

Project managers and system integrators like to keep their development costs under control. The last thing they need is an over-confident developer who spends a year developing something that it would be easier to just buy in.

Development projects have a habit of being unpredictable too.

Managing risk is critical. Buying an off-the-shelf component with a well-defined function in the project is less risky than developing it from scratch because it can be evaluated & assessed beforehand. The evaluation can be built into the project plans. And once the project is complete the visualization part of the stack will be supported on proper commercial terms, long after the development team has moved on to other things.

Next…

OK, that is the hard sell over. For now…

In our next posting we’ll blog about the how browser-based visualizations have been made over the years, from Java to Silverlight and beyond.

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