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Quoting from [HCIL TR 91-06]...

The Tree-Map visualization method maps hierarchical information to a rectangular 2-D display in a space-filling manner; 100% of the designated display space is utilized. Interactive control allows users to specify the presentation of both structural (depth bounds, etc.) and content (display properties such as color mappings) information. This is in contrast to traditional static methods of displaying hierarchically structured information, which generally make either poor use of display space or hide vast quantities of information from users. With the Tree-Map method, sections of the hierarchy containing more important information can be allocated more display space while portions of the hierarchy which are less important to the specific task at hand can be allocated less space.

Tree-Maps partition the display space into a collection of rectangular bounding boxes representing the tree structure [20]. The drawing of nodes within their bounding boxes is entirely dependent on the content of the nodes, and can be interactively controlled. Since the display size is user controlled, the drawing size of each node varies inversely with the size of the tree (i.e., # of nodes). Trees with many nodes (1000 or more) can be displayed and manipulated in a fixed display space.

This is most coolly demonstrated at

http://www.smartmoney.com/marketmap (warning: Java required)
http://www.marumushi.com/apps/newsmap/newsmap.cfm (Flash required)
http://powermap.powershares.com/leviathan/ (Java required).

Try a tree mapping tool free of charge that plugs right into Excel, enabling the creation of tree maps from any data in an Excel spreadsheet: the product is called Spreadsheet Mapper and is available at http://www.panopticon.com, where there is also some info on the applicability of tree maps.



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