Designing Visual Attention and User Interaction for a Geoportal using SVG

The task of determining which data and information is relevant has become more difficult for internet-users. Providing search interfaces enabling users to “search in the context” in order to get the “relevant feedback” has been indicated as one of the most important research issues. The major rationale for the existence of geoportals and geo digital libraries is to provide access mechanisms to various geo data and information. In this context, unfortunately supports to assist perceptual and cognitive limits of the users are still lacking. This work investigates the prospects of using SVG technology to offer a usable visualization of and user interactions to the geoportal. Regarding the visualization scheme, this will present strategies to provide usable graphic symbols applying visual search guidelines on top of search and map interfaces. These symbols are used to assist users’ pre-attentive processing in performing a task of searching for geospatial data. Regarding user interactions, this will elaborate how SVG user interfaces should be built to enrich functionalities facilitating tasks for defining questions and reviewing the search results. The work utilizes data-driven web application using the model-view-control paradigm. In this regard, the model corresponds to metadata summaries of available geospatial data (encoded in RDF/XML format), map layers (stored as MySQL databases conforming to OGC Simple Features), and supporting multimedia (e.g. images, animations, text descriptions). The view component comprises of navigation interfaces, search interfaces, and map-legend interfaces. XSLT, Servlet, and JSP technologies are used in the control component. They are dealing with data transformation, mapping data and search results, and managing functionalities offered to enable user interactions. To improve the usability of the SVG interfaces built, the users’ experiences in searching data and interacting with geoportal are observed through a small usability testing. The limitations and problems found in the current interfaces as the results of usability testing will be discussed.