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Visualizing with VizServer

Oct 08, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Inxight VizServer provides visual representations

Understanding the relationship between all of the components in a machine or between workers in an organization is easy up to a point, after which the scale just overwhelms you. This point at which people get overwhelmed seems to be fairly low – this may be related to the old saw about people not being able to comprehend more than seven things at one time.

So when you need to make complexity comprehensible what should you do? The answer is of course to draw a picture of it.

Unfortunately, when you’re talking about complex interrelationships between many entities a static picture may not cut it. The answer this time is, of course, an animated picture, which is exactly what Inxight VizServer from Inxight (see links below) does over the Web.

Data is input, analyzed and formatted by wizards in VizServer Publisher. The data is then delivered by VizServer and presented by a Java applet in one of two formats: Star Tree, which the company claims is 62.5% faster navigating large information collections (gotta love that 0.5%); and Table Lens.

A Star Tree is a directed graph that re-centers when you click on a node allowing you to explore the links that node has to other nodes. Clicking on a node can take you optionally to a URL.

Table lens is a tool that displays tabular data as graphs in the table with interactivity – you can click on the graphical elements and show them as data, lock opened selections, and sort the table. Check out the demo pages to see how these two presentation techniques work in practice.

VizServer connects to any JDBC compliant database (such as Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, Sybase, etc.) and via XML with Inxight SmartDiscovery Server. (The server documentation is out of date and refers, incorrectly, to the Inxight MetaText Server, the product’s old name … actually the whole site seems to be woefully out of sync with the current product range.)

VizServer also contains an embedded crawler (spider) that can automatically map information from file systems and Web sites along with a scheduler that allows real time updates of visualizations. Inxight also offers software developer kits to create custom applets.

VizServer runs under Solaris 2.7, Windows NT and 2000, AIX 4.3.3, and Red Hat Linux 6.2. Its application server component, VizServer Runtime, runs under Solaris 2.7 with iPlanet application server and Apache Web server, Windows NT or 2000 with JRun application server and Apache Web server, any J2EE-compliant application server with a connected Web server, or WebSphere, WebLogic and Oracle application servers.

The tool for creating VizServer content, VizServer Publisher, runs under Windows NT SP5 with IE 4.0+, Windows 2000 SP1 and IE 4.0+, or Solaris 2.7 with Netscape 4.7.       


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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