Temporal Interactive Techniques

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Temporal Interactive Techniques

Interactive representations bring new techniques:

  • Showing and hiding data (details on demand) using filters or zooming
  • Animation
  • “Brushing and linking” – i.e., typically a mouse driven selection of data together with multiple coordinated views

This section shows how some interaction techniques have been applied to temporal visualisations.

Fish-Eye Concepts

The “perspective wall”  is a rather old fashioned technique that allows one to visualise a time region in the context of neighbouring time regions:

Perspective Wall


The “Fish-eye” lens metaphor offers a smoother variant, by using a hyperbolic distortion in one dimension.


The use of a small time bar for visualising and interacting with the current time range filter is fairly common. Here is a control for viewing GPS data in Google Earth that contains the basic features.

Google Earth's Time Slider

Users set the size of the range of the currently displayed data via (2) and can drag that range via (5). Note the range is displayed textually too.


In addition to the filtering mechanism described above, some interactions allow a degree of stretching and compressing of the main data area.

Google Finance

Wieden & Kennedy

In each of these cases the time flow of the main data area can be controlled via the widgets in the time bar.  This interaction helps with Scheiderman’s ‘zoom and filter’ principle.

Also in these two, both the time bar and the main data area have a constant rate of time flow: whether the same technique would work well on non-linear flows is an interesting question.


Animation in temporal visualisations typically involves animating data filtered through a ‘time window’. Hindsight from Trulia is a good example of this but there are many others.

Trulia Hindsight

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