Google Visualization API Opens Up

When Google first launched their visualization API, you could only use data that was in Google spreadsheets, which was pretty limiting. Yesterday, Google opened this up, and you can now hook in data from wherever you want. What does that mean? It means that developers now have access to all the visualization API offerings like before, but it’s now a lot easier to hook visualization into data applications.

Headed for Googley Waters

It also means we’re about to see a boom in web applications that look very Googley. Motion charts (above) are going to spread like wildfire and ugly gauges will grace us with their presence. It’ll be similar to the Google Maps craze, but not quite as rampant. In a couple months from now, I will have a long list of online places that use the Google visualization API. It’s going to be interesting where online visualization goes from here.

Going back to my original question, to what extent do you think the now-open Google Visualization API will affect visualization on the Web?

[via ReadWriteWeb]


  • I believe there will likely be an increase in the number of sites using the tool, most likely in the same way the average user uses Powerpoint, to create cheesy, gaudy visualizations that won’t even get their point across. But there will also be an increasing trend to use the API in a smart fashion and the general public will get used to seeing alternate ways to visualize data sets – and I suppose a wider awareness of visualization techniques is a good thing.

  • It’s hard to tell what’s going on in this press release, so I’ll break it down:

    The Visualization API has been open for a long time. It’s hasn’t been restricted to Google Spreadsheets. Google documented how to implement a data source, though the community response was underwhelming.

    I tweeted about this in August, linking up the docs and noting that there seemed to be no open source projects taking up the challenge:

    The actual news: Google has open-sourced a Python data source reference implementation:

    The fake news: Google and Salesforce wanted to issue a joint press release, and no one noticed the first time Google opened up the Visualization API, so why not give it another shot?

    In any case, the Visualization API is a great tool and it will probably get more play now that there’s a reference data source implementation. Here’s to motion charts!

  • I’ve only fiddled with the Google API, but it looks promising. I think it will gradually expand, and I think initially that Kim’s predictions will be upheld: people will use G-API as an open source web-based PowerPoint, and we’ll be inundated with loads of awful visualizations.

    This is no different than the onslaught of awful visualizations from “dashboard” and “BI” software packages, like Dundas, ChartFX, and innumerable others that surpass even Excel 2007 in useless optical effects.

    Eventually, I’d hope that the tide would turn toward sanity, as third party implementations spring up that apply sensible practices using G-API.

  • @Justin – thanks for the breakdown. I was too hasty late last night.