• A guide to geostatistical mapping with open-source tools

    April 22, 2010  |  Mapping, Software

    Mapping with R and other free and open-source programs feels clunky and hacked-together at times. The plus-side is that it's all for free, and once you find the time to wrap your head around it, you can get quite a bit done. Tomislav Hengl provides a free e-book, A Practical Guide to Geostatistical Mapping, that can hopefully help you with such tools (namely R, SAGA GIS, and Google Earth). You can also buy the paperback version on Lulu.

    [Thanks, Ryan]

  • Data visualization tutorial in Processing

    April 13, 2010  |  Software, Visualization

    If you absolutely refuse to touch any code, I suggest Many Eyes or one of the fine FD sponsors, but if you're looking to get your hands dirty, Processing is a great place to start.

    Jer Thorp, whose work we saw not too long ago, posts this introduction tutorial for data visualization with Processing.

    I’m going to start from scratch, work through some examples, and (hopefully) make some interesting stuff. One of the nice things, I think, about this process, is that we’re going to start with fresh, new data – I’m not sure what kind of things we’re going to find once we start to get our hands dirty. This is what is really exciting about data visualization; the chance to find answers to your own, possibly novel questions.

    The examples are straightforward, the results are interesting, and most importantly, it gives you a lot to work off of with your own data and geometry. Hopefully it's the first post of many.

  • Map and report data with InstantAtlas

    April 2, 2010  |  Mapping, Software

    As you know, there's this big wave of transparency going on right now, and many organizations want to do more than just post a bunch of spreadsheets. They actually want to visualize it and share their data in a way that can be consumed by the general public. InstantAtlas aims to make that easy - without any code.
    Continue Reading

  • Streamgraph code is available and open source

    April 1, 2010  |  Software

    Some people love 'em and others hate 'em. Now you can play with streamgraphs (seen here and here) yourself, whatever side you might be on. Lee Byron has made the code available on Github, under a BSD license.

    It's in Processing, and it's not plug-n-play like many of you are probably hoping for, but on a quick skim, the code does look very readable and shouldn't be too hard to grasp for those with a little bit of coding knowledge. I recommend reading Lee and Martin's streamgraph paper first though.

  • Visualize your Last.fm listening patterns with LastHistory

    March 3, 2010  |  Self-surveillance, Software

    lasthistory

    Frederik Seiffert provides this nifty tool, LastHistory, to visualize your Last.fm listening history. Mouse over songs and find repeated track sequences. The visualization itself isn't all that useful, but it gets interesting when you hook your calendar and photos in with music. LastHistory lets you replay songs synched with your photos, and your slideshow suddenly gains a new dimension.
    Continue Reading

  • Sunlight Labs releases mapping framework, ClearMaps

    February 23, 2010  |  Mapping, Software

    clearmaps

    Open data is great, but it's useless if you don't know what to do with it. Sunlight Labs, a group focused on using technology to support open government, recently released ClearMaps. It's an Actionscript framework for interactive cartographic visualization.

    In addition to giving designers and developers more control over presentation the project aims to address some of the common technical challenges faced when building interactive, data driven maps for the web. ClearMaps is designed as a lightweight, flexible set of tools for building complex data visualizations. It is a framework not a plug-and-play component (though it could be a starting point for those wishing to make reusable tools).

    It's still in the early stages, but developers will want to check this out I am sure.

    [Thanks, Kevin]

  • Build Online Visualization for Free with Tableau Public

    Tableau Software, popular for making data more accessible, mainly in the business sector, just opened up with Tableau Public. The application is similar in spirit to other online data applications like Many Eyes and Swivel. It lets you share data and visualizations online. However, Tableau Public doesn't have a central portal or a place to browse data. Rather it's focused on letting you explore data and stitch modules together on your desktop and then embed your findings on a website or blog.
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  • Build Statistical Graphics Online With ggplot2

    Statisticians are generally behind the times when it comes to online applications. There are a lot out-dated Java applets and really rough attempts at getting R, a statistical computing environment, in some useful form through a browser. So imagine my surprise when I tried this tool by Jeroen Ooms, a visiting scholar at UCLA Statistics.

    It actually works pretty well, and for a prototype, it isn't half bad.
    Continue Reading

  • Microsoft Live Labs Pivot: Interact With Massive Amounts of Data

    December 10, 2009  |  Software, Visualization

    What if you could see all the individual bits of information scattered across the Web in one view and then interact with it in a meaningful way? This is what Microsoft Live Labs' new Pivot experiment tries to do.

    Pivot makes it easier to interact with massive amounts of data in ways that are powerful, informative, and fun. We tried to step back and design an interaction model that accommodates the complexity and scale of information rather than the traditional structure of the Web.

    The goal is to let users make connections between pages, data points, photos, etc that go beyond links, with what the developers call collections. The below video is a demonstration and explanation:

    Pivot's ability to display lots of thumbnails and then reorganize and zoom in on them is the tool's foundation. The transition between each view involves a flutter of thumbnails, which sort of provides a link between data arrangements. The browsing behavior looks a lot like that of Photosynth, a Live Labs project that lets you browse giant bundles of photos.

    Jeffrey Heer et. al. wrote a paper on these transitions a while back. I can't really say whether it works or not. I suspect it's more about a fun factor once you get into higher volumes of data than it is about making connections. That's not to say it's not important, of course. After all, most of the Web is about entertainment in some form or another.

    All in all, it's an interesting concept, and it will be fun to see where the Live Labs team takes the project.

    Pivot is currently by invitation only, but I have a handful of invites (10 to be exact) for you guys. Download Pivot from here, and then use this activation code: 3C5D 19BD B7DA 3186. Come back here and let us know what you think in the comments.

    [Thanks, Jeff]

  • Nebul.us Shows You Your Activity on the Web

    December 8, 2009  |  Online Applications, Self-surveillance

    Nebul.us is an online application, currently in private beta, that aggregates and visualizes your online activity. Enter your information for Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc and install a plugin in Firefox to record your browsing behavior. Get something that looks like the above, sort of a donut-polar area chart hybrid. Nebul.us calls it a cloud.
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  • Make Thematic Maps With Cartographer.js

    November 5, 2009  |  Mapping, Software

    Like it or not, Google Maps mashups continue to be a Web favorite. It's just so easy to use. Stick a few lines of javascript in your web page, and voila, you've got an interactive map. That's for point-wise data though. It gets a little trickier beyond "you are here" pointers. Cartographic.js, in its first release, aims to make thematic mapping with the Google Maps API easier.
    Continue Reading

  • Data Interface Iterations: Designing webtrendmap.com’s Stacks

    September 30, 2009  |  Online Applications

    545-stacks

    This is a guest post by Craig Mod, who collaborated with Information Architects, to develop Web Trend Map. The site, which is largely inspired by iA's previous work, lets you curate links with sources you trust. This post describes the multiple iterations and decisions made during the design process.

    Design and development of webtrendmap.com v1.0 took three months. During this period the interaction design and interface underwent countless subtle permutations. What we ended up with is almost totally unlike what we started with. There was a lot of painful iteration. A lot of gut wrenching backtracking.

    Let's drill down and take a look at how we iterated on one key webtrendmap.com visual element: the Stack. Continue Reading

  • Collect Data About Yourself with Twitter – your.flowingdata is Live

    July 15, 2009  |  Online Applications, Projects

    your.flowingdata (YFD), a Twitter application that lets you collect data about yourself, is now LIVE!

    I feel like I've been working on this project forever, but it's finally at a place where I think it's ready for human consumption. And unlike the previous version, what you track is completely up to you.
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  • Review: RoamBi, Seeing Your Data on the iPhone

    June 29, 2009  |  Reviews, Software

    RoamBiThis is a guest review by Peter Robinet of Bubble Foundry, a web design company that specializes in building websites for Web startups.

    What It Is

    RoamBi is a free data visualization application for the iPhone by MeLLmo. You download datasets to the app and it creates visualizations so you can drill down into the data. The app is pitched as a mobile business tool for viewing sales reports and the like, but the sample visualizations included with the app suggest another possibility: RoamBi could easily be a killer app for statistics-minded sports fans, such as sabermetrics devotees!
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  • Review: Beginning Python Visualization

    June 19, 2009  |  Reviews, Software

    Python is a powerful programming language that's good for a lot of things. I mainly use it for data scraping, parsing, munging, etc, and more recently, for the Web, and I've left visualization up to other languages.

    But why not use Python for visualization too? That way you can have everything in one language and all the gears can fit together a little easier. Beginning Python Visualization (BPV) by Shai Vaingast is a guide to help you do this.

    While you might need a little bit of programming experience to fully make use of this book, Vaingast provides plenty of examples and explanations for you to easily learn how to use Python's visualization options.
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  • Google Fusion Tables Helps You Visualize and Manage Your Data

    June 11, 2009  |  Online Applications

    As the newest release from Google Labs, Fusion Tables is a tool that aims to make your data more accessible.

    Today we're introducing Google Fusion Tables on Labs, an experimental system for data management in the cloud. It draws on the expertise of folks within Google Research who have been studying collaboration, data integration, and user requirements from a variety of domains. Fusion Tables is not a traditional database system focusing on complicated SQL queries and transaction processing. Instead, the focus is on fusing data management and collaboration: merging multiple data sources, discussion of the data, querying, visualization, and Web publishing.

    Google Spreadsheets + phpMyAdmin

    Fusion Tables will feel familiar to those of you who use Google Spreadsheets, but the use is somewhat different.

    Where Spreadsheets is meant to mimic much of the feel of MIcrosoft Excel, Fusion Tables is somewhere in the middle between Excel and database (or at least it hopes to be eventually). You can filter data as well as merge your datasets with others, for example, by country.

    Maybe the best way to describe Fusion Tables is a cross between Google Docs and phpMyAdmin, which is a user interface into a MySQL database.

    Visualization Options

    Probably of most interest are the visualization options. They're what you're used to seeing with line, pie, and bars, all looking very Google-y. The new ones to check out: motion chart and intensity map (above). There's also a regular point mapping option. Again, we've seen these visualizations before, but Fusion Tables is trying to make it easier to use them.

    What do you think of Google's new offering? GIve it a whirl with their sample tables, and come back here and let us know what you think in the comments below.

    [Thanks Andrew, NoodleGei, Oleks, and everyone else...]

  • Javascript InfoVis Toolkit – New Version Released

    June 5, 2009  |  Software, Visualization

    As we've seen, javascript is growing into a viable solution for visualization on the Web. John Resig ported Processing to javascript about a year ago and we saw some projects in javascript to show off speed in Google Chrome.

    Most recently, Nicolas Garcia Belmonte released version 1.1 of his InfoVis Toolkit, which provides a basic set of tools for creating interactive visualizations on the Web. Continue Reading

  • Open Source Data Visualization Framework – Axiis

    May 22, 2009  |  Software, Statistical Visualization

    axiis

    Axiis, an open source data visualization framework in Flex, was released a few days ago under an MIT license. I haven't done much in Flex, but from what I hear, it's relatively easy to pick up. You get a lot of bang out of a few lines of code. Axiis makes things even easier, and provides visualization outside the built in Flex graph packages. Continue Reading

  • Indieprojector Makes it Easy to Map Your Geographical Data

    May 21, 2009  |  Mapping, Online Applications

    Axis Maps recently released indieprojector, a new component to indiemapper, their in-development mapping project to "bring traditional cartography into the 21st century." Indieprojector lets you import KML and shapefiles and easily reproject your data into a selection of popular map projections. No longer do you have to live within the bounds of a map that makes Greenland look the same size as Africa. Continue Reading

  • Google Adds Search to Public Data

    April 28, 2009  |  Data Sources, Online Applications

    Google announced today that they have made a small subset of public datasets searchable. Search for unemployment rate and you'll see a thumbnail at the top of the results. Click on it, and you get a the very Google-y chart like the one above, so instead of searching for unemployment rates for multiple years, you can get it all at once.
    Continue Reading

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