Improvise is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Affero General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.
Improvise is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU Affero General Public License for more details.
Improvise runs as a cross-platform Java program. It requires Java version 1.6 or later. If a suitable version of Java is not installed on your system, one must be installed before proceeding.
Although Improvise is a complete application and has been used extensively on MacOS X, Linux, and Windows, it is research-grade software with known bugs and should be considered a prototype.
Installing and Running Improvise
The current version of Improvise is 1.1.0. To install Improvise, first download one of the following:
Package with a command line script (for Mac OS X and Linux) and a batch script (for Windows).
Mac OS X application (in a disk image) [doesn't launch consistently; please use script version for now]
Windows executable [still working on this; please use script version for now]
Next, launch Improvise. (On most systems, if using the script version, double-clicking the corresponding script will work.)
The Improvise splash window will appear, followed shortly thereafter by an empty visualization document window. Note that the application will have a Java look and feel, which is usually different from the look and feel of native applications.
Example Visualizations
The examples page links to the descriptions of a variety of example Improvise visualizations. Many examples provide a downloadable zip archive of the loadable visualization and the data it depends upon.
To load an example visualization in Improvise:
  • Download and unzip the archive for the desired example. (Important: Actually unzip the archive; the virtual unzipping functionality of the Windows desktop and similar utilities does not work.)
  • The resulting directory contains *.viz documents, a data directory, documentation, and possiblty other documents.
  • Open a *.viz document from the File/Open… menu item in the menu bar of any open visualization window.
Improvise is not designed to open visualization documents that are located over a network or otherwise stored outside of the local file system. Visualization documents may fail to open correctly from such locations.
Building Improvise
Improvise builds using Gradle. A single archive contains both the source code and the Gradle scripts needed to build Improvise. See the about directory and script for information about building Improvise from source.
I am happy to discuss ideas for research collaboration with people in the visualization/HCI/informatics/digital humanities communities, including ideas that involve interdisciplinary applications to complex sources of information, novel display and interaction techniques (particularly if they involve coordinated multiple views and multi-dimensional data), connections to other toolkits, or integration of new and existing views and data processing algorithms into the Improvise toolkit/library.
However, despite the availability of the Improvise source code under the AGPLv3, we are not looking for help with development of the Improvise software architecture or user interface from the general open source community at this time.
You are welcome to contact me with comments or problems using Improvise or the example visualizations. However, please note that Improvise is unsupported. The time I have to respond to requests for assistance is extremely limited.
Improvise remains limited in terms of documentation and tutorials. We are currently working on creating an in-depth tutorial including video. In the meanwhile, a very simple introductory visualization and a small collection of crude tutorial visualizations with text instructions may help potential visualization designers get started. The build archive also includes a developer overview; see improvise/doc/Developers-Overview.txt).
Improvise is an integral part of multiple active research projects. Updating of binaries, source, and examples will be sporadic. The above downloads are for Improvise version 1.1.0, and were uploaded on Sunday, September 7, 2014.