The Effectiveness of the Hybrid Graphical Representation Method in Visually Combining and Communicating Logical and Spatial Relationships between Scheduled Activities



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This research endeavor investigated the possibility to combine the visual advantages of both graphical schedule visualization methods, the Linked Gantt Charts (LGC) and Flowline graphs (FLG), derived from the activity-based and location-based scheduling systems, to help resolve some of their shortcomings by capitalizing on their combined strengths. In order to accomplish the goal of the research, a graphical representation system that combines these two scheduling visualization methods, LGC and FLG, is developed. Afterwards, the research attempted to empirically validate the ability of the proposed tool to visually communicate and combine logical and spatial relationships between scheduled activities. This is compared to comprehending the same information by looking at a stand-alone LGC or FLG. The accuracy and time, of deciphering various details of a sample project schedule, are used as parameters to evaluate the proposed scheduling visualization tool, and compare it to the existing LGC and FLG systems.

The Hybrid Graphical Representation (HGR) is the tool developed by this research to combine Linked Gantt Chart bars from the activity-based scheduling approach, and flow-lines from the location-based scheduling approach. The HGR concept is founded on the basic idea that both LGC and FLG share a common X-axis, Time. The only difference is in a LGC the Activities are listed on the Y-axis, while the FLG shows Locations on the Y-axis. This research proposed adding a third dimension to the FLG, listing the project Activities on a Z-axis. Viewing the HGR 3D graph from the top, the user will observe the Gantt bars with Time on the X-axis and the Activities listed on the Z-axis. Observing the schedule from the front view, the user will see the flow-lines developed from the location-based scheduling approach with Locations on the Y-axis and Time on the X-axis. After conducting a series of online surveys measuring the time and accuracy of using a prototype HGR schedule, it was found that the users were able to reap the benefits of both scheduling approaches (LGC and FLG), and visually link and communicate information concerning the activities' logical relationships and spatial relationships. However, it took the participants a relatively longer time to achieve that higher accuracy utilizing the HGR tool.