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I have a data structure that is network-like or graph-like.

Most of the time a tree is sufficient, because it can fit into a tree model, but sometimes the branches can fuse together. If you want to represent this in a typical tree I can see no other way than to duplicate these nodes.

For example in the bottom diagram :

'Outlet Group 1' appears twice even though it is just one instance (Two branches are meeting up). There is a similar situation with the node called '30201-1'.

Tree Demo

Is there anything else that could be used to convey to the user that we are not dealing with a typical tree?

  • I was thinking of highlighting all the duplicate nodes. When a user clicks on one of the nodes all instances highlight up :

enter image description here

  • Alternatively I could list that the node has multiple parents in the right panel.

Any thoughts?

  • 3
    Why do you need to explain the relationship? What fails in the UX if just implement a continuously expanding tree. – Jason A. Nov 26 '14 at 17:04
4

You may use a symbol for every subsequent instance (see image below). You may use the windows shortcut symbol or any other symbol that is meaningful to users.

enter image description here

  • so the first instance looks normal. All other instances look visually different with a shortcut link? – Oliver Watkins Dec 3 '14 at 8:19
  • Yes. You may also add functionality on the shortcut icons, when clicked navigate to the first instance. – DesignerAnalyst Dec 3 '14 at 16:46

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