State of the Project, Week 10

The Dids and the To-Dos are the same this week: continue to work on developing the “backwards tree,” and the “breadcrumb tree.”

Backwards tree:

On right-click, reload a separate viz in a splitscreen with the clicked node as the root node of a tree that shows that node’s parents. Currently looks like this:



This was fairly straightforward – I wrote another function in that would fetch parents instead of children. The most finicky part was changing D3 to open bottom-to-top instead of top-to-bottom, which involved combing through a lot of lines to make sure I’d caught all the references.


  • The tree suffers from the same multiple-parents problem as the main tree. As the user expands the tree, the nodes move around, causing all the dead-end links above.
  • Aesthetic concerns: the nodes position themselves a little oddly. Also, would like life to end up in the center of the top of the tree. 
  • CSS bug – “Life” remains filled in so looks clickable

To add:

  • Integrate into the main Phylet viz – open as separate splitscreen viz
  • Change CSS styles to make this graph easily differentiable from the main graph

The multiple parents problem is going to make this graph functionality all but unusable until it gets sorted out, I think. I did more experimentation but still no success on this front.

Breadcrumb tree:

Meant to address space concerns. On control-click, reload the graph to show only the clicked nodes and its children, plus a trail leading back to the “Life” root node.


This one is a little tougher – tougher than I first thought, too. There are little snags that complicate things. For example: how do you choose the correct parent to show in the breadcrumb trail, if there are multiple parents? I experimented with keeping a list of recently clicked nodes and giving those nodes priority in choosing a parent to show. A simpler way for now may be to just choose the first one that comes up among the nodes that are already displayed. 


  • I wrote the script with TAXCHILDOF relationships being the back-up parent choice, but most nodes do not have a TAXCHILDOF relationship in birds.db
  • I have a strong feeling that I am overcomplicating the process of creating a breadcrumb trail. I’m going to take a detour into researching this, rather than just hacking away at the problem. The avenue I’m going down now seems both inelegant and vulnerable to idiosyncrasies in the structure of different databases. 

To add:

  • Integrate functionality into the main Phylet viz 

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