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How to plot a network in a “polar” layout using NodeXL

March 3rd, 2013 by Marc Smith · 6 Comments

When a particular node in a network is of special interest it can be useful to create a network visualization in which it is located at the center of concentric rings of vertices.

NodeXL supports a “Polar” layout in which each vertex has two values that govern its location: distance from center (“Vertex Polar R”) and the angle around the clock (“Vertex Polar Angle”).

Using a random network, we added two columns to the Vertices worksheet that we called: Ring (or “Vertex Polar R”) and Rotation (or “Vertex Polar Angle”).  We then assigned values for the “Ring” and the “Rotation” for each Vertex:

2013-03-03-NodeXL-Vertex Polar Data - Ring and Rotation

These values can then be mapped to the location for each Vertex using the NodeXL Autofill columns feature:

2013-03-03-NodeXL-Autofill Vertex Polar Data

When these values are applied to the network visualization and the layout is set to “Polar” the visualization repositions each vertex into a position around a ring.  The values are set by mapping Vertex Polar R to “Ring” and Vertex Polar Angle to “Rotation” and then selecting “Autofill”.  The result is a single ring plotted around a core:

2013-03-03-NodeXL-Visualization of Vertex Polar Data

To see this more clearly, I built a larger random network with 100 vertices and added two more “rings”.  The resulting image looks like this:

2013-03-03-NodeXL-100 Polar Layout Network Edges Visualization

Tags: Foundation · Metrics · Network visualization layouts · NodeXL · SMRF · Social Media Research Foundation · Social network · Social Network Analysis · Social Theories and concepts · Visualization