A dual approach to ShEx visualization with complexity management


Shape Expressions (ShEx) are used in various fields of knowledge to define RDF graph structures. ShEx visualizations enable all kinds of users to better comprehend the underlying schemas and perceive its properties. Nevertheless, the only antecedent (RDFShape) suffers from limited scalability which impairs comprehension in large cases. In this work, a visual notation for ShEx is defined which is built upon operationalized principles for cognitively efficient design. Furthermore, two approaches to said notation with complexity management mechanisms are implemented: a 2D diagram (Shumlex) and a 3D Graph (3DShEx). A comparative user evaluation between both approaches and RDFShape was performed. Results show that Shumlex users were significantly faster than 3DShEx users in large schemas. Even though no significant differences were observed for success rates and precision, only Shumlex achieved a perfect score in both. Moreover, while users' ratings were mostly positive for all tools, their feedback was mostly favourable towards Shumlex. By contrast, RDFShape and 3DShEx's scalability is widely criticised. Given those results, it is concluded that Shumlex may have potential as a cognitively efficient visualization of ShEx. In contrast, the more intricate interaction with a 3D environment appears to hinder 3DShEx users.

Arxiv preprint