July 22, 2015

You Can Now Share your Networks With the World!

Andrew Pitts

An Overview of Polinode

If you haven’t used Polinode before - it’s a tool for mapping, visualizing and analysing networks in the browser. With Polinode you can either create Networks, Surveys or both. Polinode Networks allow you to upload arbitrary network data to the cloud and then visualize and analyze this data directly from your browser. The source of the data can literally be anything including emails, 360 degree performance reviews, enterprise social networks, social media, etc.

Polinode Surveys allow you to collect network data using the relationship-based survey tool. For example, you can ask questions such as “Who do you work with often?” or “Who do you go to for advice?”. You can then visualize and analyze this network data in one integrated and highly flexible solution. Applications are many and varied but include change management, identifying emerging talent, M&A integration and improving workplace layouts. This is what we call the ‘Survey’ functionality and in summary it is most often used for organizational network analysis.

Today we are thrilled to announce four new major features!

1. Introducing Public Networks

Polinode is all about networks and network data, so it should come as no surprise that enabling you to efficiently share networks that you’ve created with others (i.e. with your network) has always been a priority for us. Previously the way that you could do this was to add other people as users to your network or survey, i.e. to grant them the appropriate permissions. Of course, this permissions functionality for private networks is still there but sometimes you want to share a network more broadly - with just a link. As of today, you can make any network a public network and then share a link to your network and anyone will then be able to visualise and explore your data.  The easiest way of thinking about this functionality is ‘Gephi in the cloud’ combined with ‘Github for networks’.

When creating a new network you will now be presented with the option of creating either a public or a private network. Existing networks can also be changed so that they are either public or private.               

2. Improvements to Explore Design

One of the most consistent pieces of positive feedback that we regularly receive from users is that they are impressed with the design of Polinode - both in terms of the usability as well as the actual look and feel of the application. Today, we've just gone live with some further design improvements and we expect that we will continue to tweak and hopefully improve things in the future. The most significant changes you will notice will likely be when exploring networks or surveys - the background colour is now dark by default and we have generally improved the readability of the data as you interact with it.

3. Additional Layout Options

Polinode uses the Force Atlas layout to arrange nodes when you explore network data, essentially nodes that are more closely connected will be positioned more closely together in the visualization. We understand though that sometimes the default options just aren't enough and some of our more advanced users have been asking us for the ability to change the layout settings for a while now. From today, you now have the ability to do just this! When you press the layout button (the top left button in explore), you will be presented with the ability to change settings such as gravity and repulsion for the Force Atlas layout.

We've also added options for LinLog mode and Strong Gravity. With these settings, you can now create visualizations like the below. The data here is the same as the image directly above, but we have enabled LinLog mode and Strong Gravity as well as colouring nodes by community.

4. Performance Improvements - Including Lightning Mode

We know that some users like to use Polinode to analyze truly large networks - many thousands of nodes. Today we are announcing that we've gone live with a whole range of performance improvements to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with Polinode. The most noticeable change that you will see is the introduction of “Lightning Mode” when exploring a network. You can toggle lightning mode on and off at any time - when it is on a number of performance optimisations will be made, including hiding edges, so that you can interact with a large network more efficiently. In our testing we found that it was up to ~100x faster exploring a network with the new lightning mode activated - we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

We would love to hear from you in the comments below about what you think of these new features/improvements and what else is at the top of your list for us to add!

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