The VisITMeta (german: Visualisierung der Sicherheit moderner IT-Infrastrukturen auf der Basis von Metadaten/english: Visualizing the security of modern IT environments by using metadata) project aims at visualizing network metadata. The project started on April 1st, 2012.

General information

  • Duration: 3 years, April 2012 to March 2015
  • Project funded by german Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
  • Project funding reference number (Förderkennzeichen): 17PNT032
  • Grant amount for Hochschule Hannover: 310.596,00 € inclusive project allowance (Projektpauschale)


The project will be accomplished by the Hochschule Hannover while cooperating with different parties:

  1. externally with the partners of the ESUKOM project/SIMU project
  2. externally with the Universität der Bundeswehr München, namely the research group of Prof. Dr. Gabi Dreo

These partners will be included in evaluating and discussing the process and results of VisITMeta.

Project goals

The main goal of VisITMeta is to develop a new IF-MAP metadata visualization software, based on the results and ideas of irongui. As irongui startet as a bachelor thesis of Tobias Ruhe, B. Sc. at the Hochschule Hannover and was developed further by the Trust@FHH research group, there was a point where further development was more difficult than using the gained knowledge and create a new software project.

The general goals are to

  • build an open-source successor to irongui
  • that visualizes IF-MAP metadata as graphs with nodes, edges and labels
  • while beeing interoperable with other IF-MAP 2.0/2.1 compliant clients and servers
  • and (therefore) uses our own IF-MAP client library ifmapj to handle the IF-MAP logic

Beside this general goals and requirements, the new VisITMeta software will support many new and advanced features to handle and navigate metadata graphs:

  • Provide filtering to adjust the visualization according to the users needs
  • Allow for abstraction (Level of Detail) of the shown elements (i.e. only show Identifiers, or Identifiers with links of depht 1, …)
  • Visualize the current state of the graph
  • Deliver high performance in layouting and rendering, even for large graphs
  • History functionality, that let the user analyze the chronological “flow” of metadata within one graph.
  • Use visual concepts like colour, shapes, sizes etc. to display elements of the metadata graph
  • Multiple layout algorithms, to differently layout subgraphs
  • Use animations to highlight changes in the graph
  • All expectable kinds of control for navigating in the graph (pan & zoom, …)
  • Search functionality (by type, by value)

Special requirements

The software itself should benefit from what we’ve learned from irongui also in the way of software engineering and software quality means.

This includes

  • that all software layers are strictly separated by interfaces
  • it is easy to be extended with additional functionality
  • allows for easy switching of the used libraries for the different aspects (persistence, layouting, rendering, …)


During the first phase of the project, we developed some visual concepts for the functionality of the later software. This flip-book-style presentation was used to get feedback from the ESUKOM partners on the final ESUKOM workshop in September 2012.

Project progress

project-roadmap This shows the overall project roadmap for VisITMeta (created with GanttProject).

The actual software development started in March 2013 as planned. Developer’s releases of the early versions of VisITMeta can be found on github. The current release still has alpha stadium but will evolve quickly over the course of the next months.

The idea is that feedback from users (ESUKOM partners, members of the TCG, other reasearchers interested in IF-MAP, …) can be gathered from early on in the development.


As we have many more ideas of how to enhance the visualization and user interface for navigating through metadata graphs that cannot be handled directly within the 3 years of funding, we will try to outsource these ideas to our students via student projects, thesis or student assistants. Some of the things we might investigate include

  • Display results of correlation of metadata (and display, what metadata lead to one correlation result)
  • Visualize the trust rating of an information
  • Use a 3D visualization together with stereoscopics
  • Different visualization on large-format screens or small endpoints
  • Control the navigation via gestures, camera tracking

… and much more.


This section summarizes the different documents (presentation, design documents, …) that are available for VisITMeta:

Hochschule Hannover
University of Applied Sciences and Arts
Faculty IV, Dept. of Computer Science
Ricklinger Stadtweg 120
30459 Hannover, Germany
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