Redesigning the user interface of SPMF

In this blog post, I will offer a glimpse of my plan for improving the user interface of the SPMF data mining sofware.  I have designed a sketch of an improved user interface using the open-source Pencil prototyping software.  Here is the user interface:

Prototype of new user interface for SPMF data mining

Prototype of new user interface  (click here for a full size picture)

My main idea is to add a new window (top right corner) that will become the main window of the software. It will offer several functions:

  • Prepare data: This will open the current SPMF interface and let the user select an algorithm for performing basic operations on a data file such as converting to another format or applying some filters.
  • Run an algorithm: This will open the current SPMF interface and let the user select a data mining algorithm to analyze his data.
  • Add/Remove plugins: This will be a key new feature. It will open a window (bottom right) where the user will be able to download and install plugins from a plugin repository. A plugin will basically be a .jar file that will be executed as an external program by calling it with some parameters and an input file and will produce and output file, just like other algorithms in SPMF. Thus, a plugin could be a new algorithm or some new visualization module to visualize results. After installing a plugin, the features of the plugin will be automatically added to the software and the user will be able to use it. By adding a plugin management feature, this will let other users contribute plugins to the software. Plugins will initially be .jar files but could eventually be external .exe files (although then such plugins would only work on Windows).
  • Run several algorithms: This will be another key new feature. It will let the user define a workflow  by selecting several algorithms to be applied one after the other.  I have not yet defined the user interface. This will be done after.
  • Online documentation: This will simply open the online documentation of SPMF.
  • About SPMF:  This will simply open the website of SPMF.
  • Preferences: This will be a new window that will be implemented later to let the user set various preferences or options. I have not defined it yet.

So this is an overview of what SPMF could look like in the next major version. If you have some comments about this design or suggestions for improvements, please let me know. I am currently trying to accelerate the development of SPMF by adding several new features, since I now have a budget for hiring a profesionnal programmer to work on the software.

Philippe Fournier-Viger is a professor of Computer Science and also the founder of the open-source data mining software SPMF, offering more than 145 data mining algorithms.

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