A Mandala Browser User Study: Visualizing XML Versions of Shakespeare’s Plays




Gainor, Rhiannon
Sinclair, Stéfan
Ruecker, Stan
Patey, Matt
Gabriele, Sandra

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Visible Language


We report he results of a small user study of a visual XML browsing prototype, called the Mandala browser, where dots representing entire documents or portions of documents are plotted around the periphery of a circle and drawn inward by colored magnets that are assigned values by the user. The result is akin to a Venn diagram that provides a visual representation of the interac­tion between multiple Boolean queries. In this study, eleven participants were given a pre-study interview, then asked to carry out a series of tasks where the dots represented speeches in plays by Shakespeare and finally were de­briefed in a concluding interview. We gained from this study a range of valuable insights into how details of the Mandala browser design could be improved. Participants mentioned, for in­stance, that they would like to retain a connection between results and the visualizations that produced them, that they would like to be able to make notes on result sets, and that they would like to be able to save subsets within results. They also asked for tools that support collaborative searching, as well as for federated searching across collections. The user feedback confirmed the potential value of the Mandala interface and provided guidance for the next iteration of development.




Gainor, R., Sinclair, S., Ruecker, S., Patey, M., & Gabriele, S. (2009). A Mandala browser user study: Visualizing XML versions of Shakespeare’s plays. Visible Language, 43(1), 60-85.