What Is hBrowse And How Does It Work?


Data visualization is becoming increasingly important in today’s data-driven world. As datasets grow larger and more complex, traditional methods of analyzing and understanding data are no longer sufficient. This is where hBrowse data visualization comes into play – it allows us to see and interact with data in visual formats, identifying patterns, relationships and insights that would be difficult to uncover with numbers alone.

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One tool that is growing in popularity for visualizing hierarchical and tree-structured data is the hBrowse framework. hBrowse provides a highly configurable and customizable environment for creating interactive visualizations of complex datasets. In this article, we will look at what hBrowse is, its key features, how it can be used for data visualization, and the benefits it offers.

Overview of hBrowse

hBrowse is an open-source JavaScript framework designed specifically for visualizing hierarchical data. It utilizes the latest web technologies like jQuery, Highcharts, and DataTables to provide a rich interactive user experience.

The hBrowse framework consists of a client-side JavaScript application that connects to a server via HTTP to fetch JSON-formatted data. This data is then parsed and rendered into an interactive visualization.

The key advantage of hBrowse is its high configurability – it can be adjusted and implemented according to the specific needs of different communities and applications. The entire application can be set up using a single settings file, making it easy to customize both the visual appearance as well as the functional capabilities.

hBrowse was created by Brookhaven National Laboratory and CERN to meet the data visualization needs of various scientific communities involved in grid computing initiatives. It has since been adopted by other communities as a useful generic framework for visualizing hierarchical data across different domains.

Key Features of hBrowse

Some of the standout features of the hBrowse framework include:

  • Highly configurable – The entire framework is highly adjustable through a settings file, allowing for customization of both visual layouts and behaviors.
  • Client-side application – As a client-side JavaScript application, hBrowse can connect to any server capable of sending JSON data over HTTP. This makes it server-agnostic.
  • Unlimited data levels – hBrowse supports visualizing data with unlimited levels, enabling the representation of highly complex tree-structured data.
  • Bookmarking – Users can bookmark specific views in hBrowse for quick access later. This is useful for saving preferred data filters or views.
  • History – The framework maintains a history of user interactions and data states, allowing easy reversion to previous views.
  • Search – Built-in search functionality lets users quickly find and filter data.
  • Google Charts integration – hBrowse leverages Google Charts for advanced charting and graphing capabilities.
  • Custom UI – The UI is fully customizable through CSS, allowing branding and visual customization.
  • Plugin architecture – hBrowse uses a plugin architecture where each component is a separate plugin for maximum configurability.

Using hBrowse for Data Visualization

The hBrowse framework is designed as a generic monitoring and visualization tool for hierarchical data. It is particularly useful for visualizing large, complex datasets that have parent-child relationships.

Some examples of how hBrowse can be used:

  • IT/Network monitoring – Visualize networks and systems with parent-child dependencies e.g. networks, subnets, servers, processes
  • Filesystem exploration – Interactively browse folder hierarchies and gain insights into structures
  • Organization charts – Visualize company org structures with complex relationships
  • Scientific computing – Explore computational workflows and process execution trees
  • Web/App architectures – Understand and analyze nested site maps or app architectures
  • Biological taxonomies – Represent taxonomic rankings and biological classifications

The key advantage of hBrowse is that it provides an interactive graph-based overview of all available data and relationships within a hierarchical dataset. Users can dynamically filter, search, expand and collapse different parts of the hierarchy to focus on particular areas of interest.

Integrated charting capabilities also allow rendering performance metrics or other attributes associated with tree nodes. This provides a powerful analytical environment for uncovering insights within complex structured data.

Benefits of the hBrowse Framework

There are several key benefits to using the hBrowse framework:

  • Customizability – hBrowse can be highly configured to the needs of different data domains through its settings file. Both visual stylings and functionality can be adapted.
  • Latest web technologies – The framework utilizes modern standards like HTML5, CSS3, jQuery and Highcharts to create rich experiences.
  • User-friendly – The UI provides an intuitive way to visualize and interact with hierarchical data structures.
  • Platform agnostic – hBrowse only requires JSON data over HTTP, allowing it to work with any backend platform or database.
  • Open source – As open source software, h Browse is free to use and modify. The community can help build new features.
  • Active development – hBrowse is actively maintained by core developers at CERN, with new releases that evolve capabilities.
  • Thriving community – There is an active community contributing plugins, extensions and knowledge around h Browse.
  • Modular architecture – The plugin-based architecture allows using only the needed components and customizing as desired.

For these reasons, hBrowse has become a popular framework for both startups and large enterprises needing to visualize complex hierarchical datasets across diverse industries and use cases. Its configurability and standardized components help accelerate development without reinventing the wheel.


In summary, hBrowse is an open-source JavaScript framework designed specifically for the interactive visualization of hierarchical and tree-structured data. Its key strengths are high customizability, integration of modern web technologies, an intuitive UI, and a modular plugin architecture.

h Browse allows creating dynamic and interactive graph-based overviews of complex structured datasets, helping uncover insights through visualization. It is being adopted across scientific research, IT, biology, and many other domains for flexible and powerful data visualization capabilities. With active development and a thriving community, h Browse is poised to continue evolving as a leading framework for tackling hierarchical big data visualization challenges.

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