ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award
USA - 2016
For developing visualization languages that have fundamentally changed the way people build and interact with charts and graphs across the Web.
Heer's most impactful work is on developing visualization languages that have fundamentally changed the way people build and interact with charts and graphs. Interactive visualizations are difficult to create because they require expertise in user interface development, graphical design, and algorithmic implementation. Heer and his collaborators have released a series of visualization languages — Prefuse (2005), Flare (2007), Protovis (2009), and Vega (2013) — designed to address these difficulties by providing the basic programmatic building blocks for creating interactive charts and graphs. Heer also contributed to the development of D3.js (2011). This work has pushed the field of data visualization from a focus on simple data graphs to a set of abstractions that have made complicated visualizations easier to build. Tens of thousands of developers have used the tools to produce visualizations across a variety of media websites and millions of people have interacted with the resulting visualizations. Heer's work has thus had an unusually direct and significant impact on a wide community of software developers and users.