yFiles for Silverlight is an extensive class library for the Microsoft Silverlight Framework that provides algorithms and components for analyzing, viewing, and drawing graphs, diagrams, and networks. Its intended use is for application developers that are working on projects dealing with graph-related structures. yFiles for Silverlight divides into two distinct parts:
For the sake of brevity, the chapters and sections in this document that discuss concepts and use of the library often simply utilize the name "yFiles" when describing features of yFiles for Silverlight.
One of the main aspects of yFiles for Silverlight is the provision of sophisticated layout algorithms to support automatic generation of high-quality graph drawings. Take, for instance, the graph depicted in Figure 1.2, “Initial setup of some data”. It shows a "raw" version of a graph where it seems that the nodes have been placed randomly on the plane. Suppose this "raw" graph represents an initial setup of some data.
By using one of yFiles for Silverlight's layout algorithms the "raw" graph will be transformed into the arrangement shown in Figure 1.3, “Automatically computed "polished" drawing”. Note that the actual process of computing the "polished" drawing is completely automatic.
In a real-world scenario the initial setup could be even worse. For instance, when a graph is created from data retrieved from a database, any node created to represent an entity from a column would not have any positional information associated. Hence, the created nodes would all lie at the origin of the Cartesian coordinate system, i.e., they would "pile up."
Even for mathematically inclined people the term graph drawing can be misleading as to what it exactly should mean. Also, the term visualization is another popular occasion for a misunderstanding of the purposes the yFiles library serves.
Figure 1.4, “Other forms of diagrams” shows some examples of other forms of graphs, or more generally diagrams, that yFiles for Silverlight does not support. In particular, the yFiles for Silverlight graph visualization library does not provide any functionality to deal with pie charts, function plots, or anything the like.
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