I'm building a UI with the primary goal of mapping the name of each piece of data from one name to another.

Devices might give the same data different names, but once it arrives and is to be used in the cloud these pieces of data should be mapped to the same uniform name, so the UI developer is not bothered by inconsistent naming at the hardware level.

In mathematics it is often visualized as a mapping diagram like this

enter image description here

However since there can be thousands in both the input and output side, I can't give the user an overview by illustrating it this way. I can perhaps in most cases bring that down to a couple of hundreds with filtering the data on categories and such, however we're still talking a couple of hundreds on each side, which can have an n-n relationship (direction is irrelevant).

I did consider Sankey diagrams for a while, however the weight parameter is not really relevant here, so I went away from considering that as an option.

Right now the best that I can come up with is a treemap chart, however even if I try to break it into multiple layers / hierarchies, it will still be hard to read and get an overview of it.

So I'm hoping that someone in here might have some great ideas, how to visualize n-n mappings between 2 entities (input data names on a physical device to output data name for unified use in the cloud) in a way that scales

  • If I'm reading it right, in database terms this is a 1:n relationship since one input can only have one output, but one output can have many inputs. Put another way, you cannot have an input map to multiple outputs. This materially changes the responses. Also, the reason for visualizing is critical. Why is a text listing of input to output not sufficient?
    – cmonkey
    May 18, 2023 at 18:55

1 Answer 1


Q: I have a ton of data, how can I show it to someone so they can understand it?

A: You can't.

When you go to the library, every page is not laid open to you. The pages are collated in books which are labeled and neatly stored on shelves under several layers of categories. Various and differing search systems are provided to people looking for particular topics or details.

Summaries, filters, sorts, searches...tools are needed to help people navigate a vast amount of information.

Broad to narrow:

How do users cognitively approach the digestible chunk of information they seek? What is the broad perspective that logically comes to their mind? Present that to them. Keep narrowing down that perspective logically until they've found what they're looking for.

Once the user is looking at a digestible chunk of information, depicting the relationships between components as you've suggested will be possible and effective.

Of course studying users and consulting with subject matter experts will be necessary to discover the typical ways people perceive the data you need to present.

With research and testing behind it, develop a taxonomy of your data set.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.