Envision Digital Library Project (1991-95)

The Envision Digital Library was a prototype digital library of computer science literature developed at Virginia Tech under a cooperative agreement with ACM and NSF Grant IRI-9116991.

Approximately 200,000 documents, mostly from ACM publications, were converted to SGML and loaded into the MARIAN DL search system. The greater part of the documents consisted only of metadata, often with abstracts, but some full-text and some multimedia documents were included.

The most innovative part of the project was the Envision visualization interface.

This user-controlled system facilitates examining very large data sets, displaying multiple aspects of the data simultaneously and efficiently, and interactive discovery of patterns in the data.


The Envision digital library of computer science literature

(All images PDF.)
Three-window suite (full-screen dump) showing search results for a two-part query. The same results displayed by author and date, with document type represented as shape. Visualizing growth in the literature over time.
This diagonal display shows documents clustered by relevance (similarity to query). Visualizing distribution of relevant documents by subject. Results sorted by document type and displayed with "cream rising to the top."

Use of Envision in a general-purpose digital library

Graphic View presentations of academic library data in MARC format from the Virginia Tech Newman Library (all images PDF):
Top 15 search results for [Title:gone with the wind] Search results for [Author:mahler Title:symphony]

Ongoing Work

CS5604 Envision Java Project Notes (HTML Version)

Current work. (Requires password.)


Dennis J. Brueni, Bailey Cross, Edward A. Fox, Lenwood S. Heath, Deborah Hix, Lucy T. Nowell, and William C. Wake. "What if there were desktop access to the computer science literature?" Proceedings of the 21st Annual ACM Computer Science Conference, 1993, pp. 15-22.

Edward A. Fox, N. Dwight Barnette, Clifford A. Shaffer, Lenwood Heath, William C. Wake, Lucy T. Nowell, JAN Lee, Deborah Hix, and H. Rex Hartson. "Progress in interactive learning with a digital library in computer science," Proceedings ED-MEDIA 95, World Conference on Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia (Graz, Austria, 1995) pp. 7-12.

Edward A. Fox, Lenwood S. Heath, and Deborah Hix. "A User-centered database from the computer science literature," Proceedings of the NSF Scientific Database Projects 1991-1993, AAAS Workshop on Advances in Data Management for the Scientist and Engineer (Boston, Massachusetts, February 14-16, 1993) Wesley W. Chu, A. F. Cardena, and Ricky K. Taira (Editors), pp. 70-75.

Edward A. Fox, Deborah Hix, Lucy T. Nowell, Dennis J. Brueni, William C. Wake, Lenwood S. Heath, and Durgesh Rao, "Users, user interfaces, and objects: Envision, a digital library," Journal of the American Society for Information Science 44, 1993, pp. 480-491.

Heath, Lenwood S., Deborah Hix, Lucy T. Nowell, William C. Wake, C.A. Averboch, Eric Labow, Scott A. Guyer, Dennis J. Brueni, Robert K. France, Kaushal Dalal, and Edward A. Fox. "Envision: a user-centered database of computer science literature." Communications of the ACM, 38(4), 1995, pp. 52-53.

Nowell, Lucy Terry (1997). Graphical encoding for information visualization: using icon color, shape and size to convey nominal and quantitative data. Virginia Tech, PhD Dissertation, 1997. (HTML title page and references to PDF version.)

Nowell, Lucy Terry, Robert K. France, and Deborah Hix. "Exploring Search Results with Envision." Proceedings of CHI97 (Atlanta, GA, March 1997). ACM, 1997, pp. 14-15. (HTML Version)

Nowell, Lucy Terry, Robert K. France, Deborah Hix, Lenwood S. Heath, and Edward A. Fox. "Visualizing search results: some alternatives to query-document similarity." Proceedings of SIGIR96 (Zurich, Aug, 19-21, 1996). ACM, 1996, pp. 67-75. (HTML Version)

Nowell, Lucy Terry, Robert K. France, and Deborah Hix. Graphical encoding in information visualization. Two-page abstract for CHI Doctoral Consortium, Proceedings of CHI '97 (Atlanta, Georgia, USA, March 1997). (HTML version)

Nowell, Lucy Terry and Deborah Hix. "Visualizing search results: user interface development for the Project Envision database of computer science literature." Proceedings of HCI International, 1993 (Orlando, Florida, Aug. 1993) vol. 2, pp. 56-61.

Nowell, Lucy Terry and Deborah Hix. "Query composition: why does it have to be so hard?" Proceedings of the East-West International Conference on Human Computer Interaction, 1993. (Moscow, Russia, August 1993) pp. 226-241. (Also available as Tech Report TR93-19 from Dept. of Computer Science, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061)

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