DocuBurst: Visualizing Document Content using Language Structure


Christopher Collins, Gerald Penn, Sheelagh Carpendale, Brittany Kondo, Bradley Chicoine


DocuBurst is the first visualization of document content which takes advantage of the human-created structure in lexical databases. We use an accepted design paradigm to generate visualizations which improve the usability and utility of WordNet as the backbone for document content visualization. A radial, space-filling layout of hyponymy (IS-A relation) is presented with interactive techniques of zoom, filter, and details-on-demand for the task of document visualization. The techniques can be generalized to multiple documents.

Live Demo



  • C. Collins, S. Carpendale, and G. Penn, “DocuBurst: Visualizing Document Content Using Language Structure,” Computer Graphics Forum (Proc. of the Eurographics/IEEE-VGTC Symposium on Visualization (EuroVis)), vol. 28, iss. 3, pp. 1039-1046, 2009.
    [Bibtex] [PDF] [DOI]
      key =     {COL2009a},
      author =   {Christopher Collins and Sheelagh Carpendale and Gerald Penn},
      title =   {DocuBurst: Visualizing Document Content Using Language Structure},
      journal =   {Computer Graphics Forum (Proc. of the Eurographics/IEEE-VGTC Symposium on Visualization (EuroVis))},
      year =   2009,
      volume =   28,
      number =   3,
      pages =   {1039 - 1046},
      doi = {10.1111/j.1467-8659.2009.01439.x}

Eurovis presentation PDF slides.


[DocuBurst featured in Marti Hearst’s wonderful book, Search User Interfaces]

[DocuBurst featured in the Toronto Star!]

[DocuBurst on ‘information aesthetics’ blog]

Interview with Margaux Watt of CBC Radio One Manitoba’s “Up To Speed“, 21 Feb, 2008:  Up to Speed

A feature story on DocuBurst aired on FairChild TV “Media Focus” (cable 36 in Toronto), Friday, March 14, 2008!


The code for displaying and interacting with radial, space filling trees in prefuse is open source, and is available for download. The code is distributed as a zip file and can be imported into Eclipse. It is dependent on the prefuse information visualization toolkit and, unfortunately, is minimally documented at this time:
Radial Space Filling Trees in prefuse [.zip] (requires separate prefuse download)


Mavenized code, including pom, courtesy Brian O’Neill


Executable Jar with prefuse embedded [.jar]




ThreadReconstructor: Modeling Reply-Chains to Untangle Conversational Text through Visual Analytics

Detecting Negative Emotion for Mixed Initiative Visual Analytics

EduApps – Supporting Non-Native English Speakers to Overcome Language Transfer Effects

Metatation: Annotation as Implicit Interaction to Bridge Close and Distant Reading

DataTours: A Data Narratives Framework

Perceptual Biases in Font Size as a Data Encoding

Progressive Learning of Topic Modeling Parameters: A Visual Analytics Framework

Abbreviating Text Labels on Demand

NEREx: Named-Entity Relationship Exploration in Multi-Party Conversations

ConToVi: Multi-Party Conversation Exploration using Topic-Space Views

PhysioEx: Visual Analysis of Physiological Event Streams

Using Visual Analytics of Heart Rate Variation to Aid in Diagnostics

Off-Screen Desktop


Reading Comprehension on Mobile Devices

#FluxFlow: Visual Analysis of Anomalous Information Spreading on Social Media

Optimizing Hierarchical Visualizations with the Minimum Description Length Principle


SentimentState: Exploring Sentiment Analysis on Twitter

Facilitating Discourse Analysis with Interactive Visualization




Simple Multi-Touch Toolkit

Exploring Text Entities with Descriptive Non-photorealistic Rendering

Investigating the Semantic Patterns of Passwords

Bubble Sets: Revealing Set Relations with Isocontours over Existing Visualizations

Parallel Tag Clouds to Explore Faceted Text Corpora

VisLink: Revealing Relationships Amongst Visualizations

DocuBurst: Visualizing Document Content using Language Structure

Tabletop Text Entry Techniques

Lattice Uncertainty Visualization: Understanding Machine Translation and Speech Recognition

WordNet Visualization

// Where the sidebar information is stored
| © Copyright vialab | Dr. Christopher Collins, Canada Research Chair in Linguistic Information Visualization |