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Model Sensemaking Strategies

This page describes what are sensemaking strategies, and how are they classified.

A model sensemaking strategy is a purposeful model visualization based on a visual metaphor. They are defined as reusable patterns that yield tailored visualizations when applied to meta-models. They are aimed at accomplishing specific model understanding tasks, offering visualization metaphors for it – like charts, plots, maps, graphs, or matrices. SMSs are reusable since each strategy exposes a small meta-model pattern that when bound to a target meta-model results in a tailored visualization for the target meta-model instances. SMSs are also flexible as they can be used to understand (meta-)models at any level of abstraction, as well as entire modelling ecosystems.

Application example of a Categorical SMS

SMS are instantiated with a binding connecting the context meta-model of the SMS (i.e., its pattern) to a target meta-model.

Structure of an SMS

SMSs are described according to the following structure:

  1. Intent.

    It describes the goal of the strategy, i.e., the sensemaking task(s) it aims to answer.

  2. Presentation metaphor.

    Similar SMSs are grouped by presentation metaphor, including: data, grouping, metric, time, and structural.

  3. Context metamodel.

    It defines the application pattern of an SMS. It must be bound to a target meta-model so that the SMS can be used to visualise meta-model instances. Each element of the context meta-model (i.e., classes, attributes, and references) can be deemed as conceptual “holes” to be populated by elements of the target meta-model. Context meta-models usually contain few elements, enabling their application to a wide range of target meta-models.

  4. Visualisation variants.

    The different ways in which an SMS can be visualised. They can be switched at run-time.

  5. Properties.

    Properties allow customisating the resulting visualisations. Each SMS defines its own set of properties, which can be mandatory or optional, and are typed. Properties are independent of the target meta-model and are populated by value.

Catalogue of supported SMSs

Dandelion offers a catalogue of SMSs, summarised in the following table. Each queryable SMS is detailed in its own page.

PMSMSVisualisation variantsDescription
DNumericalline graph, area chart, scatter plotFor (x, y) coordinates.
DNumerical + Frequencybubble chartFor (x, y) coordinates with an associated frequency.
GCategoricalvertical/horizontal bar chart, (semi-circle) donut chart, pie chart, proportional area chartTo partition data into categories.
MMetric DistributionboxplotTo depict the most important percentiles of a metric.
MFree Metrichighlighted number, icon and numberTo visualise an unconstrained value.
MBounded Metricangular gauge, gauge chartTo visualise a value bounded in a min..max range.
MLiteral Metricword cloudTo represent frequency in a textual field.
TTime-BasedGantt chartFor timed tasks with start and finish dates.
SConnectivityadjacency matrix/heat map, chord diagramFor cross-referenced objects.
SWeighted HierarchytreemapFor nested objects.

Where PM = presentation metaphor: D = data, G = grouping, M = metric, T = time, S = structural.