Responding to the need evident in many fields to know "what is out there", the National Science Foundation is funding the Tree of Life initiative, where biologists from across the country are identifying the holes in our understanding of how various organisms are related to each other, and doing the research to close these holes. The results will be the best understanding of the Tree of Life to date, and like any taxpayer-funded initiative, it has the obligation to share these results with scientists and the interested public - teachers, amateur naturalists, the curious.

A major goal of the CIPRes project is to generate a stable, deeply integrated archival phylogenetic database, using new data structures and data handling techniques for phylogenetic analyses, which will serve as a centralized repository for the latest information on the Tree of Life. To promote collaboration, train new researchers, and educate the public about evolution and systematics, these data must be not only made available for scientists to check and build on, but also visualized effectively. Members of many audiences for this information must be able to go to a website and interact with the data and effective summaries of it in order to answer their questions.

This website aims to describe current work in tree visualization, and identify principles and suggestions for how these ideas should be applied to visualize the Tree of Life.