Effective interactive visualization
July 3, 2010 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Please help me learn about visualizing data on web pages in an interactive way.

I'm interested in making some simple visualizations of data and like the layout and style of the New York Times infographics.

Are these all done using Flash or are there some other techniques used? I'm toying with the idea of learning Flash, even though it is proprietary. What sorts of things should I learn in Flash? Are there alternatives to Flash that can achieve the same results?

The times of visualizations I would like to learn are mainly for displaying academic work.

posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Prefuse Flare is the gold standard in GPL online datavis, even if it's a bit of a pain to mess with. I just finished a large app using Flare, and got pretty good results. The same programmers who made Flare are now working on an HTML5/Canvas JS API with similar visualizations, called ProtoVis. Since you can get free tools to create Flash content these days, which path you take is really a function of whether you want to run on iOS (HTML5) or old IE6-era browsers (Flash), and whether you value open standards (HTML5) or font embedding and other nifty stuff that just works across browsers without much futzing (Flash). I'm currently transitioning to some HTML5 work, but that's because I'm in a position where I don't need to target IE6 anymore (yay!).
posted by Alterscape at 6:59 AM on July 3, 2010

I follow a blog that features many different infographics - Flowing Data. You can comb their archives for ideas and how-tos (mostly ideas), but I've narrowed down at least ONE getting started article.

Have not read the article since it was published, but could be a good starting point.

There's also an awesome visualization / instructional that was posted around the time of the Stanley Cup.
posted by kellygrape at 7:41 AM on July 3, 2010

Seconding Protovis as a way to get into interesting visualizations in Javascript. The example gallery is a good place to start.
posted by Nelson at 7:59 AM on July 3, 2010

Also check out the SIMILE project - they've got some good javascript-based visualization tools, especially where time-series data needs to be presented interactively.
posted by aberrant at 10:25 AM on July 3, 2010

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