NodeXL has new updates to its importers for Twitter users and lists.
We have released an updated version of NodeXL that simplifies and merges the previously separate User and List importers.
The new, streamlined importer treats an individual user as a list of one.
Lists can be defined by pointing to an existing Twitter List or simply entering a list of delimited user names into the text box.
The updated importer now collects many more tweets per person and parses these messages to generate reply and mention edges.
You can now define a group of Twitter users and find out how much they reply and mention one another.
You can even pull in the followers of each person, to see if they reply or mention people they also follow.
But ever since June 11, 2013, Twitter has made access to the “follows” edge data very difficult (its just very slow). Designed and implemented prior to the update that restricted access to the follower network, the original NodeXL Twitter list importers relied mostly on queries that are now impractically slow for all but the smallest lists of users who have small collections of followers.
The update to these User and List importer is partially an adaptation to these changes. The importer shifts away from the follower network to focus on the communication interaction data in the content of Tweets. Since Twitter offers more generous access to Tweets than to information about who follows who, we are obliged to make better use of what they do offer.
The results are insightful! Here is a map of the connections among the members of the United States Congress.
The NodeXL team has just released a new version of the application.
Version 320 of NodeXL has some important changes.
All existing users of NodeXL
* UNINSTALL *
all existing copies of the application from their systems
prior to installing this version.
Benefits: NodeXL will now provide automated updates. Everyday NodeXL will check for updated code and patch itself automatically.
This is the LAST update for NodeXL that will require user involvement. We will push new features out to users as they are available and they will just show up in user’s applications.
Some additional features of the latest update:
- Imported Twitter networks now have an “in-reply-to tweet ID” column. This is a useful data element for building “paths” that capture how information flows through a network.
- When you lay out each of the graph’s groups in its own box, you can now select how the boxes are laid out. Go to NodeXL>Graph>Layout>Layout Options in the Excel ribbon. (Thanks to Cody Dunne for this feature.)
- The Check for Updates item has been removed from the Excel ribbon. NodeXL now automatically checks for updates once a day. Once this release is installed, NodeXL will automatically update itself when a new release is available. You will no longer have to manually download and install new releases. This release and those that follow will all be referred to as “NodeXL Excel Template 2014.” New releases will continue to have version numbers, but the numbers will be less important in light of the new auto-update feature.
- If you use third-party graph data importers, such as the Social Network Importer for NodeXL, note that the folder where the importers are stored has changed. See “Using third-party graph data importers in NodeXL Excel Template 2014” at http://nodexl.codeplex.com/discussions/522826.
- If you use third-party graph data importers, such as the Social Network Importer for NodeXL, note that the folder where the importers are stored must be specified in the NodeXL>Data>Import>Import Options dialog:
- If you use the NodeXL Network Server, an advanced command-line program that downloads a network from Twitter and stores the network on disk in several file formats, note that the program is no longer a part of NodeXL Excel Template. See “Using the NodeXL Network Server command-line program with NodeXL Excel Template 2014” at http://nodexl.codeplex.com/discussions/522830.
- When a Twitter network is imported, the hashtags in the “Hashtags in Tweet” (or “Hashtags in Latest Tweet”) column are now all in lower case. Previously, identical strings with different case letters would be counted differently. This is no longer the case and the result is that terms that had been divided are now unified. These terms will now have higher values and there will be more diversity in the top ten list.
Thanks for using NodeXL and stay tuned for additional updates!
The NodeXL team at the Social Media Research Foundation is happy to announce the availability of the newest version: there is lots of new stuff in the latest release of NodeXL v.184.108.40.206!
- Group Frames: If your graph has groups and you choose to lay out the groups in their own boxes (NodeXL, Graph, Layout, Layout Options), you can now specify the width of the box outlines.
- Constant Edges: When you select an edge, its width no longer changes. NodeXL used to use the same width for all selected edges, even if the edges had varying widths when unselected.
- Group and Vertex Display Harmony:
- When a graph has groups, you now have more control over how the groups are shown. Go to NodeXL, Analysis, Groups, Group Options.
- The NodeXL, Show/Hide, Graph Elements, Groups menu item has been replaced with a checkbox in the Group Options dialog box.
- Right-Click Group Controls: Menu items for selecting, expanding, collapsing and removing groups are now available in the menu that appears when you right-click the graph pane. (These are just shortcuts for the same menu items that are available in the Ribbon at NodeXL, Analysis, Groups.)
- WYSIWYCC: What You See Is What You Can Click –
- Hidden edges and vertices (those that have their Visibility cells set to Hide) can no longer be selected in the graph pane.
- Edges and vertices that have been filtered (NodeXL, Analysis, Dynamic Filters) can no longer be selected in the graph pane.
- Bigger Twitter Lists: When importing a Twitter list network (NodeXL, Import, From Twitter List Network), you can now enter up to 10,000 usernames. The maximum used to be 500.
- UCINET / Matrix Compatibility: Bug fix: When exporting the graph to a UCINET file (NodeXL, Data, Export, To UCINET Full Matrix DL File), isolated vertices didn’t get exported. When exporting the graph to a new matrix workbook (NodeXL, Data, Export, To New Matrix Workbook), isolated vertices didn’t get exported, when importing a graph from a matrix workbook (NodeXL, Data, Import, From Open Matrix Workbook), isolated vertices didn’t get imported. Now they do!
Recently, we’ve been setting out to set up a new way to set the option settings in NodeXL. Now we have added a new feature to NodeXL (v.166): savable, selectable configuration option settings files.
This may seem dull but this feature may have a big impact on the ease of use of NodeXL. This may let the most experienced users of NodeXL share their best practices with the rest of the user community.
Throughout NodeXL you can set a wide range of values, options, and settings. Change the default size of a font in the Graph Options and we record that setting. Map the size of a vertex to a value associated with it in Autofill columns and we record the setting.
Until now, we recorded the settings in several places: some settings went with each workbook, some settings were associated with each machine and stayed on each desktop. The result was that I could create a great network visualization, save and send someone the workbook and they often would not see what I saw when they opened and visualized the network graph. Why? People set their settings in lots of different ways, on different machines, creating potentially vastly different results.
Now, NodeXL will record everything about how a network workbook should be rendered in that workbook.
This now also means that expert users can save their settings for NodeXL and exchange them with other users.
NodeXL now has three places to put settings that should make it more reliable to share a workbook and get the same results on different systems. There will now be a default NodeXL settings file, a per NodeXL workbook settings file (stored in a hidden worksheet in the workbook) and any number of saved settings files. Users can save their settings in each workbook or decide to save the workbook’s custom set of settings to overwrite the default settings file that will be applied to all subsequent NodeXL workbooks. Users can also save their settings to one or more named files, which can be shared with others. Users can import any of these settings files and apply them to an open workbook by selecting NodeXL>Options>Import.
- Each NodeXL workbook now has its own set of options. The options are stored right in the workbook, so if you send a workbook to someone else, she’ll be using the same set of options that you did. (“Options” are the selections you make in NodeXL’s dialog boxes, in the NodeXL tab in the Excel Ribbon, and in the toolbar at the top of the graph pane.)
- If you like the options you’ve selected in a workbook and you want those options to be used for all new NodeXL workbooks, use NodeXL, Options, Use Current for New in the Ribbon.
- You can export a workbook’s options to a separate “options file” that you can send to another NodeXL user or use yourself for other NodeXL workbooks. Use NodeXL, Options, Export.
- Import an options file into a workbook using NodeXL, Options, Import. (Known bug, will be fixed in next release: The setting for the Scale slider at the top of the graph pane does not get imported.)
- The old “Options” button at the top of the graph pane is now called “Graph Options.”
- There is no longer a Background button in NodeXL, Visual Attributes. The graph’s background color and image are now both set via Graph Options.
For those who are running automated collections that then run automated processing of a workbook (see: How to schedule the creation of a network with NodeXL and Windows Task Scheduler) you should note that:
- The NodeXL Network Server console program now lets you specify a NodeXL options file to use when a network is saved to a NodeXL workbook. See the NodeXLOptionsFile topic in the SampleNetworkConfiguration.xml file for details. This means that the same machine can be used for scheduled network collection and processing without console users interfering with the settings for automated graphs.
The NodeXL team has just released a new version (v.220.127.116.11) that contains a new “Automation” feature that allows users to define a collection of operations to perform on their network graphs and invoke the complete set in a single button click AND reuse that configuration on other workbook graphs. In fact, the feature will apply the configuration you define to all the files you specify, allowing easy processing of large collections of network data sets.
This week the feature is partially complete. Users can invoke the merge duplicate edges, calculate graph metrics, auto-fill columns, create sub-graph images, find clusters and show graph. These operations can require as many as dozens of clicks when performed manually. If you have dozens or hundreds of network data sets the result is a daunting case of repetitive strain injury and carpal tunnel syndrome. Instead, with automation, these operations can be carried out orders of magnitude more frequently without much pain!
The next release will feature the complete package which will then include control over the layout and graph options. As a result, automatically generated network visualizations can be produced in a pipeline: users will be able to specify a query using the NodeXL desktop network data collector and then automate the processing of large collections of data sets.
The result should be better analysis of time series data sets that have many “slices”. The feature points the way to additional development work for supporting the comparison between networks to evaluate their evolution.
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