Textbook: Munzner’s Visualization Analysis and Design

by Mike Gleicher on December 24, 2014

Tamara Munzner’s Visualization Analysis and Design is the primary textbook for this class. It is required. We will read a lot of the chapters as required reading. The book just came out (it only began to ship in hardcover form in November), so its fresh and new (you aren’t going to find any used copies).

However, there is some good news: you don’t need to buy the book! The UW library owns the online version, so you can read the book online! You can find it here. If you want to own a physical copy of the book, it should be on sale at the UW Bookstore. Or you can buy it at Amazon (Visualization Analysis and Design (AK Peters Visualization Series)). (for my feelings on Amazon, read this).

Why is this the textbook?

This book will give you a good way to think about visualization. It’s not about the details, or the specific techniques. It totally avoids the discussion of how to do implementation. Tamara (I refer to her by first name, since we’ve been friends for a long time) has thought long and hard about this stuff, and has a coherent way to talk about it.

A lot of the structure of the book comes from a series of papers (that you still might want to read). However, the book uses the ideas from the paper (notably the nested model) as a way to organize a lot of other stuff you need to know.

Is the book perfect? Not by a long shot. There are some topics it totally leaves out (perception, implementation, specific designs, …). We’ll get those with other readings. She tends to over-emphasize her own work.

She also has a pretty strong and specific viewpoint – which I don’t always agree with. However, since her viewpoint is (almost) always well thought out and explained, it is worth hearing. It’s just important that you get some other viewpoints as well.

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