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Build your own interactive network

Published on
15 Nov 2012
Written by
Scott A. Hale

Similar to the map builder, there is a web-based version of the network builder under development. The web based version is useful as it provides immediate feedback on a new interactive visualization — due to browser security restrictions the visualizations will not run from a local computer without a webserver. Nevertheless, the scale and size of network data also demand an offline alternative for networks.

I am very happy to announce the first version of such an option: a Sigma.js export option for Gephi. The code we have written for this has been tested, but it should be considered an ‘alpha’ version. We very much welcome feedback and information on any bugs you discover.

To create an interactive network visualization with this offline approach, you will need to have Gephi installed. It is free and available for Linux, Mac, and Windows, and can be downloaded from the Gephi website.

Once installed, open Gephi and go to Tools->Plugins. Click “Available Plugins” and find “SigmaExporter” in the list. If you don’t see it, please click the “Reload Catalog” button and see if it then appears. Place a checkmark next to it and click the “Install” button at the bottom of the window. Accept the license agreement (GNU GPL v3), and click to install even though it hasn’t been signed (I’ll need update the plugin to address this later).

You must then exit Gephi and open it a second time. From that point onward, you will have a new menu option in the File->Export menu. Open any network and visualize it the way you like within Gephi. When you are ready to share your network online, click File->Export->Sigma.js template… . Close a suitable location and provide the necessary information (anything marked with * should be filled in at a minimum). Click ok and your network will be built. You will not be able to preview the network on your local machine without a webserver installed (this is why a web version is in the works). Upload the “network” folder in the location you specified to any webserver of your choice and share the link with all your friends. We’d love for you to share the link with us too and provide feedback.

If changes are needed, re-run the export wizard a second time and re-upload. The only files that change are config.json and data.json. Advanced users may also wish to just open and edit config.json in a text editor after formatting the JSON with JSONLint or another tool.