Visual Tour

It appears that the public server that was used to provide the Visual Tour is no longer available: Best guess is that it won't come back, especially given that they recommend others don't provide a public server either.

Doesn't Google have a public server that lets you do graphs and Venn diagrams and things? Probably nothing like VT but it's public and it serves stuff. But that's Google.

For reference, here's an example of what it looked like.

The nodes were clickable, taking you directly to the page concerned. Depth and width were adjustable within certain limits, although large values caused the server to timeout.

The VisualTour was a relatively easy way to look a few clicks ahead in your wiki browsing. At the bottom of every page is a link to the tour which picks up right where you were browsing ("or take a VisualTour" in the bottom). The tour was inspired by suggestions to VisualizeTheWiki (There you will also find scripts which visualize wikis).

Keep these points in mind.

You can explore the locale of the starting page by following a breadth-first traversal of the available links and prune it to a given width and depth. That can start small, but can be increased following links on the results page. The tour tends to take you to the largest and most often cited pages. In other words, sooner or later you will end up at extreme programming.

I use the Graph-Viz software on StephenNorth's server to do the graph layout and rendering. I ask that you use this capability sparingly so as not to overload his or my servers. Thanks. -- Ward

Could you explain the current heuristics used to select links? - thanks

IE5 is unhappy about not having the href= and src= attribute values quoted. -- DaveSmith

Ok. Dona.

Instead of using an ismap, use the MAP/AREA tags. This will reduce load on the server and be faster for the client.

Good point.

Could you use some other mechanism besides requiring the "Referer" header to defeat bots? I'm one of the people for which LikePages and VisualTour don't work. I can fix this by tweaking my JunkBuster config, but "Referer" is an optional header. Requiring it is bad form. -- TimTaylor

You can invoke either script with a page name as argument. Don't ask me to put such links into wiki because I've found from experience that it is suicide.

What about making ascii graphics instead of normal graphics? Transmitting it would be much faster. -- abli, just lurking

The tour selects pages that seem to be central just because they contain a lot of links. What would be a better heuristic?

How about a Aaron EMO?

ObjectFunctionalPatterns is supposed to be a lead-in page for a pattern language but its VisualTour is very disappointing.

Yes, its high fanout makes it a magnet for my simple logic. It will be a good test case for future improvements.

Minor point: I use BlackBackgrounds, so I can't see the connections between nodes... could very dark grey lines be used instead (would look the same on white backgrounds)? Please and thanks!

It seems to me that the VisualTour that spans out from my HomePage focuses on what are the least interesting set of nodes that might be reached. When I read the description of the rules about how they are generated, I think I can see why this is the case. For me, the most interesting thing about people tends to be better summed up in the unusual things that they share, rather than the most common.

When I go to the visual tour the first time, it works. From then on I get the previous tour, until I explicitly refresh my browser. I'm using IE6. -- BryanDollery

When I click on the link, my browser loads the page, and shows the text. The page source ends with "ismap></a>", which means (I guess) that the image is just about to be sent. But then nothing happens, even if I wait for hours. Does anyone else have this situation? Is there any solution? I use Windows 2000 with Mozilla 0.9.9, with almost the default configuration. I am behind a (transparent) proxy. -- AMIRLIVNE

Have you considered modifying the VisualTour so that the current page is in the center? It would be interesting to see how the current page fits with pages that refer to it, as well as the ones it refers to. -- JimLittle

I was just thinking the same thing. That's a nice thing about TouchGraph. -- BillSeitz Jul4'03.

Very nice. I got so inspired that I have made my own "visual tour" for my wiki. I have made my map using my Apache Web server's referer log. The four most accessed links from each page are chosen and followed. I have also added some colors in order to make it more appealing. Try it out! -- Xerxes RĂ„nby

Is there any particular reason why the code for generating the dotgraph and inserting it into a page is not shared? Ditto for you, Xerxes. -- DanRos?

I agree, there is no good reason except that the code is somewhat messy. I have published my map-generating code on - hope it is of interest. -

So will the VisualTour functionality ever be re-implemented using a different server?

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