Quick look: Data visualization software
- By David Essex
- Aug 07, 2003
Among a new category of data visualization tools is Grokker 1.0 from Groxis Inc. of Sausalito, Calif.
Named after a neologism in Robert Heinlein's science-fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Land, that means to know something thoroughly, Grokker attempts to 'know' the structure and significant concepts of any database you point it at.
Grokker's screen is evenly split between the Control Panel, where you type search phrases, choose data sources and manage filters, and the Zooming Space. R.J. Pittman, the company's chief executive officer, said the first panel adapts itself to the subject matter and 'allows the user, with almost no programming, to develop plug-ins to data sources.'
The second, right-side view is Grokker's signature graphic: circles labeled with categories, each containing colored spheres that correspond to documents. Spheres of related documents are clustered together. You can choose rectangular shapes instead of circles, if you prefer.
Grokker 1.0, the $99 personal package in a three-product line, came out in mid-June. I tried a late prerelease copy. A $999 Pro and $25,000 Enterprise version are for grokking more than one enterprise database from desktop PCs and servers, respectively'up to several million documents in the enterprise version.
You can turn Grokker onto both structured and unstructured data on agency networks or the Internet, or on your local hard drive. Grokker is no mere search tool, and it's not a taxonomy generator like the big enterprise search engines.
Grokker is designed to be a sort of faceless, interactive visual control panel that works alongside or even replaces business-intelligence dashboards and other visualization tools. And being Web services compliant, Pittman credibly claims, makes Grokker a good window onto that fast-emerging data platform for the Web.