VisConnect: distributed event synchronization for collaborative visualization

  author   = {Michail Schwab and David Saffo and Yixuan Zhang and Shash Sinha and Cristina Nita-Rotaru and James Tompkin and Cody Dunne and Michelle A. Borkin},
  journal  = {IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics},
  title    = {{VisConnect}: distributed event synchronization for collaborative visualization},
  year     = {2020},
  note     = {VIS '20. Preprint \& supplemental material: \url{}},
  pages    = {1--1},
  abstract = {Tools and interfaces are increasingly expected to be synchronous and distributed to accommodate remote collaboration. Yet, adoption of these techniques for data visualization is low partly because development is difficult: existing collaboration software systems either do not support simultaneous interaction or require expensive redevelopment of existing visualizations. We contribute VisConnect: a web-based synchronous distributed collaborative visualization system that supports most web-based SVG data visualizations, balances system safety with responsiveness, and supports simultaneous interaction from many collaborators. VisConnect works with existing visualization implementations with little-to-no code changes by synchronizing low-level JavaScript events across clients such that visualization updates proceed transparently across clients. This is accomplished via a peer-to-peer system that establishes consensus among clients on the per-element sequence of events, and uses a lock service to grant access over elements to clients. We contribute collaborative extensions of traditional visualization interaction techniques, such as drag, brush, and lasso, and discuss different strategies for collaborative visualization interactions. To demonstrate the utility of VisConnect, we present novel examples of collaborative visualizations in the healthcare domain, remote collaboration with annotation, and show in an education case study for e-learning with 22 participants that students found the ability to remotely collaborate on class activities helpful and enjoyable for understanding concepts. A free copy of this paper and source code are available on OSF at and at},
  doi      = {10.1109/TVCG.2020.3030366},
  series   = {VIS/TVCG},

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