Most of our work requires experimentation and validation. To this end, our group uses the Tulip graph visualization framework originally designed and developed by David Auber. Tulip offers a C++ plug-in mechanism easing the development and adjunction of new algorithms (computing graph statistics, graph drawing or graph clustering). This actually is a main feature of the Tulip platform. We do however experiment with other information visualization platforms such as the InfoVis Toolkit developed at INRIA and prefuse by Jeffrey Heer both based on Java technology.
Tulip implements astute data structures, data management and filtering/inheritance mechanisms. Its rendering engine relies on OpenGL, while its GUI rests on Trolltechs QT library. The main interaction paradigm offered by Tulip is the computation and direct manipulation of graph hierarchies, making it unique among all available graph visualization platforms such as Pajek and others.
Tulips architecture eases the construction of stand-alone and specialized applications. An application targeted at domain specific data can be realized through the selection of building blocks (data structures, existing plugins), customization/development of a QT-based GUI, and adjunction of specific plug-ins. Tulips popularity is confirmed by its (approximately) 1000 downloads / month since it was ported on sourceforge. Tulip is also shipped with several Linux releases. Its unique C++/Linux plug-in mechanism has recently been the focus of a short article in a wide audience French magazine.