Data visualisation DIY: our top tools. What data visualisation tools are out there on the web that are easy to use - and free?
Here on the Datablog and Datastore we try to do as much as possible using the internet's powerful free options. That may sound a little disingenuous, in that we obviously have access to the Guardian's amazing Graphics and interactive teams for those pieces where we have a little more time - such as this map of public spending (created using Adobe Illustrator) or this Twitter riots interactive. But for our day-to-day work, we often use tools that anyone can - and create graphics that anyone else can too. So, what do we use? Google fusion tables This online database and mapping tool has become our default for producing quick and detailed maps, especially those where you need to zoom in.
The main advantage is the flexibility - you can can upload a kml file of regional borders, say - and then merge that with a data table. This excellent tutorial by Google's Kathryn Hurley is a great place to start. Datamarket. RAW. Visual Understanding Environment. Many Eyes. Gephi, an open source graph visualization and manipulation software. Parallel Sets. Parallel Sets (ParSets) is a visualization application for categorical data, like census and survey data, inventory, and many other kinds of data that can be summed up in a cross-tabulation.
ParSets provide a simple, interactive way to explore and analyze such data. Even though the screenshots here show the Mac version, the program also runs on Windows and Linux. Links to the executables are in the Download Section. Basic Operation To open an existing dataset, select it in the list and either double-click it or click the Open button. The horizontal bars in the visualization show the absolute frequency of how often each category occurred: in this example, the top line shows the distribution between the passenger classes on the Titanic and the crew.
As consumers, we're positively swimming in data; it's everywhere from labels on food packaging design to World Health Organisation reports. As a result, for the designer it's becoming increasingly difficult to present data in a way that stands out from the mass of competing data streams. One of the best ways to get your message across is to use a visualization to quickly draw attention to the key messages, and by presenting data visually it's also possible to uncover surprising patterns and observations that wouldn't be apparent from looking at stats alone. And nowadays, there's plenty of free graphic design software to help you do just that.
As author, data journalist and information designer David McCandless said in his TED talk: "By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a sort of information map. 01. 02. 03. 04. Vega: A Visualization Grammar. Dynamic D3 with Knockout.js. A couple of things happened recently that prompted me to write this blog post.