The few differences between Fineo and ParSets

In the last days some discussions about the affinity between Fineo and ParSets have been arised. Here are just a few notes about why they look similar but they are conceptually very different.

The main difference between Fineo and ParSets is the way they manage the relations between data dimensions, from one axis to the other. Fineo works by comparing two dimensions at the time without caring about other dimensions (the previous and the next ones). The other way around (the ParSets’s one) more information is shown at the expense of readability. But this is the same old trade-off.

Here is an example with a simple data-set with 5 dimensions (here you can find the csv):

Fineo:

ParSets:

ParSets works by continuously profiling data, starting from a leading dimension (the first one).

ParSets Ramification:

Fineo’s flows work much more like rivers – once they flow into each other, you can’t distinguish them. This feature is useful when users are more interested in relating different data dimensions next to each other, than centering the visualization around a leading dimension.
The ParSets techniques visualize a specific tree structure. Differently, Fineo has a network-like underlying structure, the diagrams are constructed on a node-edge model: individual categories are nodes, grouped under the dimension they belong to. The number of nodes belonging to the same couple of connected categories provides the weight of the flow. Dimensions, nodes and edges are respectively visualized as axes, rectangles and connecting flows.

Let’s take a closer look. By filtering the first dimension on a single category, it’s easy to perceive this conceptual difference.

Fineo Filtering:

ParSets Filtering:

In the next image we highlighted the number of in/out ribbons in ParSets (4/6) and the in/out flows in Fineo (4/3) – dimension F/category 1.

Model comparison:

These are the reasons why ParSets is stemming from Parallel Coordinates and Fineo is inspired by Sankey diagrams.
Furthermore, when the dimensions possess a temporal connotation (periods of time like months or years), Fineo comes really useful and easy to read: using the flow metaphor taken from Sankey diagrams, Fineo is able to represent a system with changing states over time.

As a last note both of the visualizations are weighted bipartite graphs, which exists long before any interactive software development.
On our part, Fineo was developed to automatize the design of visualizations like the ones featured in the DRM and CPF projects. The projects are dated back to 2008 (which, incidentally, is before Parsets was released to the public) and no available program existed able to answer our needs. So we made our own, which subsequently developed in an interactive analytical tool.

With this being said, nothing comes from scratch, as Dr. Sagan said.

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