Visual Information Seeking in Digital Image Libraries: The Visible Human Explorer

TitleVisual Information Seeking in Digital Image Libraries: The Visible Human Explorer
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsNorth C, Shneiderman B, Plaisant C
JournalInformation in Images
Date Published1997///

This chapter presents the Visible Human Explorer user interface, developed at theHuman-Computer Interaction Lab of the University of Maryland at College Park, for remotely
accessing the National Library of Medicine’s Visible Human digital image library. With the
interface, users can visualize the library, browse contents, locate data of interest, and retrieve and
zoom on desired image details. The interface presents a pair of tightly coupled views of library
data: an overview of the overall search space, and a preview of high-resolution images available
for retrieval. To explore, the user sweeps the views through the search space and receives
smooth, rapid, visual feedback of contents. Desired details are automatically downloaded over
the internet from the library. The interface software is completely functional (runs on Sun
Workstations) and freely available for public use, at:
We also present several human-computer interaction design principles used to create the
Visible Human Explorer interface, describe how these were applied to the design, and discuss
issues in employing these techniques in user interfaces for other information collections. These
principles are direct manipulation, visual information seeking, query previews, and multiple
tightly coupled views. We illustrate these concepts with a plethora of pictures of user interface
screens. Please also check the included CD-ROM for additional illustration media.