How do I get started with data visualization?
November 20, 2008 11:41 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to figure out how to do good looking data visualization for reports beyond Excel charts, but without any coding/programming skills except xhtml/css.

Bonus points for also listing some data visualization techniques or websites that you find useful, attractive, user friendly, etc.
posted by icarus to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Edward Tufte writes great books on data visualization. The Visual Display of Quantitative INformation could be worth a library visit.
posted by Tapioca at 12:07 PM on November 20, 2008

Response by poster: I'll definitely check it out! Thanks!
posted by icarus at 12:23 PM on November 20, 2008

Best answer: You may find some inspiration at gapminder or many eyes. The Google visualization gallery has some embeddable widgets that you can link up with spreadsheet data.
posted by azlondon at 12:29 PM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: These guys.
posted by b33j at 12:33 PM on November 20, 2008

Response by poster: Infosthetics is pretty mindblowing.
posted by icarus at 12:56 PM on November 20, 2008

Seconding a serious read of Tufte. I used to do infographics for reports at my previous job and I garnered a lot of insight from his books. It dovetailed nicely with my graphic design training, as I went through school during a time when the importance of the information being presented was first and foremost.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:05 PM on November 20, 2008

Create Image-less Graphics And Charts just popped up in my RSS feeds. Includes modified sparklines (a Tufte favorite) with just CSS.
posted by djb at 1:14 PM on November 20, 2008

A friend just used this web app to do some cool charting. Google has a simple charting API. It looks pretty simple.
posted by Good Brain at 2:38 PM on November 20, 2008

You can get some pretty neat stuff out of Graphviz without too much in the way of coding skills.
posted by brennen at 2:42 PM on November 20, 2008

Best answer: Another website: Junk Charts mostly deals with what to avoid in data visualization, but it's still pretty interesting. From time to time, they have some pretty stunning charts and graphs too.

Also, I know you didn't want anything to do with programming, but if you have any programming experience at all, you should check out Processing. It's way easier than it looks. It's definitely worth it to spend 15 minutes downloading it and looking through the example code if you're interested in data-viz.
posted by oostevo at 3:12 PM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm not sure if you're looking for a more hands-on approach than this, but widgenie takes your data and creates nice-looking (but fairly business-oriented) visualizations that can be embedded in your own site.

Most of these require a small amount of programming, but you may find something useful there.
posted by [user was fined for this post] at 4:24 PM on November 20, 2008

Best answer: Hands down, Tableau.

Think sexy complicated charts/graphs meets drag and drop ease of use and functionality. No programming necessary. Best of all they have free trials. Seriously, this stuff is genius.
posted by Smarson at 1:28 PM on November 21, 2008

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