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Interactive
Browsing & Navigation
in Relational Databases
Minsuk Kahng
Sham Navathe
John Stasko
Polo Chau
Research Track
Database Usability
Important, but often overlooked
2
Command-line interface
3
Figure from https://dev.mysql.com/doc/workbench/en/wb
Spreadsheet
4
Figure from https://vizubi.uservoice.com/knowledgebase/articles/261214-how-to-create-an-excel-pivottable-report
What makes databases
hard to use?
5
Join!Even very simple queries require many tables
6
7
SELECT p.title, p.year, pa.author_order, a.name
FROM Papers p, Paper_Authors pa, Authors a, Conferences c
WHERE p.id = pa.paper_id AND pa.author_id = a.id
AND p.conference_id = c.id
AND c.acronym = ‘SIGMOD’
ORDER BY p.year DESC
Find all SIGMOD papers and their authors:
Visual Query Builders
8
Figure from http://sqleo.sourceforge.net/screenshots.htm
Two usability challenges
in writing complex queries
9
10
Join results are hard to interpret
Due to duplications produced from joining
tables in many-to-many relationships
Challenge 1
More natural representations exist
e.g., Nested tables, Comma-separated lists
But not directly supported by relational DB,
due to 1NF
11
Challenge 1
Nested tables
More natural representations exist
e.g., Nested tables, Comma-separated lists
But not directly supported by relational DB,
due to 1NF
12
Challenge 1
Comma-separated lists
Our Solution: Presentation View Layer
Inspired by the presentation data model
concept, defined as a full-fledged layer on top
of the logical models (Jagadish et al., 2007).
13
Challenge 1
Presentation view layer
Logical models
Queries and results are separated
Introducing a usability breakdown between
users’ actions and their results.
14
Challenge 2
Query
Results
Our Solution: Direct Manipulation
Users directly interact with query results
to refine them (e.g., click)
15
Challenge 2
Figure from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/video/holograph-3-d-spatiotemporal-interactive-data-visualization/
Research Goals
16
Duplications in
join query results
A presentation-level view
with easy-to-interpret format
Easy-to-use interactions
based on direct manipulation
Separation of
queries and results
1.
2.
Develop usable database interfaces
1.
2.
Problems: Our Solutions:
We propose ETable
For interactively browsing and navigating
databases at the entity-relationship level
ETable tightly integrates
• A novel hybrid representation
(between relational and nested-relational)
• A novel set of interactions that closely work
with the representation
17
1NF (duplications) may need large screen space
Design of ETable
Each column represents either a base attribute
or a set of entity references (Non-1NF)
Count
Other tables
Entity-reference columnsBase attributes
A set of entities
How to determine additional columns?
Direct neighbors in entity-relationship graphs
created during preprocessing
19
E-R Schema GraphRelational Schema
Users explore data at conceptual level
Once translated, ETable works with E-R graph,
which frees users from logical schema
20
Presentation
Conceptual
Logical
How do users specify queries?
Users directly interact with the table, then those
actions are translated into internal operators.
21
Example Interaction #1: Show entity details
Click entity reference
(author’s name)
Example Interaction #2: Show more entities
Click
author
count
Example Interaction #3: Pivot (group and aggregate)
24
Click Pivot button
on Authors column
Pivot = Join + Aggregation
SELECT Papers.*, ..
FROM Conferences c, Papers p
WHERE c.id = p.conference_id
AND c.acronym = ‘SIGMOD’ ..
GROUP BY Papers.id
SELECT Authors.*, ..
FROM Conferences c, Papers p,
Paper_Authors pa, Authors a
WHERE c.id = p.conference_id
AND .. AND pa.author_id = a.id
AND c.acronym = ‘SIGMOD’ ..
GROUP BY Authors.id
ORDER BY COUNT(*) DESC
Pivot on authors => shift focus to authors
PapersConferences
acr.. = ‘SIGMOD’ keyword like ‘user’
Equivalent SQL
Internal Query Representation
Add(‘Authors’)
Shift(‘Authors’)
AuthorsPapersConferences
acr.. = ‘SIGMOD’ keyword like ‘user’
Demo
Find researchers who have published the
most papers in SIGMOD after 2005
26
Demo
Find researchers who have published the most papers in SIGMOD after 2005
Recap
Open Conferences table1
Click paper count2
Apply filters3
Click pivot button4
Find researchers who have published the most papers in SIGMOD after 2005
User Study
29
User Study Design
12 participants performed 6 querying tasks
• Measured task completion times
• ETable vs Navicat Graphical Query Builder
(Within-subject design)
30
Task Category #relations
2. Find all the keywords of the paper titled
`Collaborative filtering with temporal dynamics'.
Attribute 2
4. Find all the papers written by researchers at
`Carnegie Mellon' and published at KDD.
Filter 5
6. Find the top 3 researchers who have published
the most papers in the SIGMOD conference.
Aggregate 4
Results
Faster with ETable than with Navicat for all tasks
31
Lower is
better
Avg Time (s)
User Feedback
Pivot made it easy to specify complex queries:
“I also loved... having multiple pivots throughout the
course of forming a query. I messed up a query, but
could still find the right answer by doing an
appropriate pivot.”
Interface is intuitive:
“Visually, I was able to see... the effects of the SQL
operations, which made it easier to use and verify
intermediate results.”
32
33
1. Novel representation for conceptual level exploration
2. Novel operations for interactive query construction
ETable:
Interactive Browsing & Navigation
in Relational Databases
Minsuk (Brian) Kahng
Georgia Tech CS PhD student
http://minsuk.com

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Interactive Browsing and Navigation in Relational Databases

  • 1. Interactive Browsing & Navigation in Relational Databases Minsuk Kahng Sham Navathe John Stasko Polo Chau Research Track
  • 3. Command-line interface 3 Figure from https://dev.mysql.com/doc/workbench/en/wb
  • 6. Join!Even very simple queries require many tables 6
  • 7. 7 SELECT p.title, p.year, pa.author_order, a.name FROM Papers p, Paper_Authors pa, Authors a, Conferences c WHERE p.id = pa.paper_id AND pa.author_id = a.id AND p.conference_id = c.id AND c.acronym = ‘SIGMOD’ ORDER BY p.year DESC Find all SIGMOD papers and their authors:
  • 8. Visual Query Builders 8 Figure from http://sqleo.sourceforge.net/screenshots.htm
  • 9. Two usability challenges in writing complex queries 9
  • 10. 10 Join results are hard to interpret Due to duplications produced from joining tables in many-to-many relationships Challenge 1
  • 11. More natural representations exist e.g., Nested tables, Comma-separated lists But not directly supported by relational DB, due to 1NF 11 Challenge 1 Nested tables
  • 12. More natural representations exist e.g., Nested tables, Comma-separated lists But not directly supported by relational DB, due to 1NF 12 Challenge 1 Comma-separated lists
  • 13. Our Solution: Presentation View Layer Inspired by the presentation data model concept, defined as a full-fledged layer on top of the logical models (Jagadish et al., 2007). 13 Challenge 1 Presentation view layer Logical models
  • 14. Queries and results are separated Introducing a usability breakdown between users’ actions and their results. 14 Challenge 2 Query Results
  • 15. Our Solution: Direct Manipulation Users directly interact with query results to refine them (e.g., click) 15 Challenge 2 Figure from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/video/holograph-3-d-spatiotemporal-interactive-data-visualization/
  • 16. Research Goals 16 Duplications in join query results A presentation-level view with easy-to-interpret format Easy-to-use interactions based on direct manipulation Separation of queries and results 1. 2. Develop usable database interfaces 1. 2. Problems: Our Solutions:
  • 17. We propose ETable For interactively browsing and navigating databases at the entity-relationship level ETable tightly integrates • A novel hybrid representation (between relational and nested-relational) • A novel set of interactions that closely work with the representation 17 1NF (duplications) may need large screen space
  • 18. Design of ETable Each column represents either a base attribute or a set of entity references (Non-1NF) Count Other tables Entity-reference columnsBase attributes A set of entities
  • 19. How to determine additional columns? Direct neighbors in entity-relationship graphs created during preprocessing 19 E-R Schema GraphRelational Schema
  • 20. Users explore data at conceptual level Once translated, ETable works with E-R graph, which frees users from logical schema 20 Presentation Conceptual Logical
  • 21. How do users specify queries? Users directly interact with the table, then those actions are translated into internal operators. 21
  • 22. Example Interaction #1: Show entity details Click entity reference (author’s name)
  • 23. Example Interaction #2: Show more entities Click author count
  • 24. Example Interaction #3: Pivot (group and aggregate) 24 Click Pivot button on Authors column
  • 25. Pivot = Join + Aggregation SELECT Papers.*, .. FROM Conferences c, Papers p WHERE c.id = p.conference_id AND c.acronym = ‘SIGMOD’ .. GROUP BY Papers.id SELECT Authors.*, .. FROM Conferences c, Papers p, Paper_Authors pa, Authors a WHERE c.id = p.conference_id AND .. AND pa.author_id = a.id AND c.acronym = ‘SIGMOD’ .. GROUP BY Authors.id ORDER BY COUNT(*) DESC Pivot on authors => shift focus to authors PapersConferences acr.. = ‘SIGMOD’ keyword like ‘user’ Equivalent SQL Internal Query Representation Add(‘Authors’) Shift(‘Authors’) AuthorsPapersConferences acr.. = ‘SIGMOD’ keyword like ‘user’
  • 26. Demo Find researchers who have published the most papers in SIGMOD after 2005 26
  • 27. Demo Find researchers who have published the most papers in SIGMOD after 2005
  • 28. Recap Open Conferences table1 Click paper count2 Apply filters3 Click pivot button4 Find researchers who have published the most papers in SIGMOD after 2005
  • 30. User Study Design 12 participants performed 6 querying tasks • Measured task completion times • ETable vs Navicat Graphical Query Builder (Within-subject design) 30 Task Category #relations 2. Find all the keywords of the paper titled `Collaborative filtering with temporal dynamics'. Attribute 2 4. Find all the papers written by researchers at `Carnegie Mellon' and published at KDD. Filter 5 6. Find the top 3 researchers who have published the most papers in the SIGMOD conference. Aggregate 4
  • 31. Results Faster with ETable than with Navicat for all tasks 31 Lower is better Avg Time (s)
  • 32. User Feedback Pivot made it easy to specify complex queries: “I also loved... having multiple pivots throughout the course of forming a query. I messed up a query, but could still find the right answer by doing an appropriate pivot.” Interface is intuitive: “Visually, I was able to see... the effects of the SQL operations, which made it easier to use and verify intermediate results.” 32
  • 33. 33 1. Novel representation for conceptual level exploration 2. Novel operations for interactive query construction ETable: Interactive Browsing & Navigation in Relational Databases Minsuk (Brian) Kahng Georgia Tech CS PhD student http://minsuk.com