Proceedings: GI 2008

Cascaded treemaps: examining the visibility and stability of structure in treemaps

Hao Lü, James Fogarty

Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2008: Windsor, Ontario, Canada, 28 - 30 May 2008, 259-266

  • BibTex

    author = {L{\"u}, Hao and Fogarty, James},
    title = {Cascaded treemaps: examining the visibility and stability of structure in treemaps},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2008},
    series = {GI 2008},
    year = {2008},
    issn = {0713-5424},
    isbn = {978-1-56881-423-0},
    location = {Windsor, Ontario, Canada},
    pages = {259--266},
    numpages = {8},
    publisher = {Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society},
    address = {Toronto, Ontario, Canada},


Treemaps are an important and commonly-used approach to hierarchy visualization, but an important limitation of treemaps is the difficulty of discerning the structure of a hierarchy. This paper presents cascaded treemaps, a new approach to treemap presentation that is based in cascaded rectangles instead of the traditional nested rectangles. Cascading uses less space to present the same containment relationship, and the space savings enable a depth effect and natural padding between siblings in complex hierarchies. In addition, we discuss two general limitations of existing treemap layout algorithms: disparities between node weight and relative node size that are introduced by layout algorithms ignoring the space dedicated to presenting internal nodes, and a lack of stability when generating views of different levels of treemaps as a part of supporting interactive zooming. We finally present a two-stage layout process that addresses both concerns, computing a stable structure for the treemap and then using that structure to consider the presentation of internal nodes when arranging the treemap. All of this work is presented in the context of two large real-world hierarchies, the Java package hierarchy and the eBay auction hierarchy.