Good Excel/CSV data visualisation tools for Windows desktops?
February 15, 2016 2:35 PM   Subscribe

How can I make Excel datasets look nice without too much mucking about?

I'm gradually being given more and more sets of increasingly-complex data in Excel spreadsheets because I'm the "computer guy" and therefore obviously know everything about every single function of every single piece of computer software that ever existed.

I guess I could force myself to be less inept and figure out pivot tables etc., but I really don't enjoy working with Excel (2013) and find it fairly counterintuitive at the best of times (though it's better than it was). Is there some kind of magical (ideally open source) piece of software that I could use under Windows 7 that would, relatively easily, make sets of Excel data look pretty?

It doesn't need to be "Data is Beautiful" levels of pretty, but something nicer than a RGB Excel bar chart would be nice.

Thanks in advance.
posted by turbid dahlia to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Requires some programming, but Python Anaconda + xlwings for dealing with Excel plus Bokeh for the Visualization and Jupyter Notebooks the development environment is how I do just this. I think xlwings, Bokeh, and Jupyter notebook all come as part of the Anaconda installation. All of this works in Windows, and doesn't even require Administrator privileges to install.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:42 PM on February 15, 2016 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks mcstayinskool. I have no programming experience but I will check out Anaconda and see if I can make it work.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:45 PM on February 15, 2016

Best answer: See if Power Pivot is a thing for you. I think the Slicers are a nice innovation and it's a free add on from Microsoft.

Pivot Tables are dead easy and there are some great tutorials on You Tube that will make you a pro in about two hours (no lie.)

No programming or VBA required!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:47 PM on February 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I will try this pivot of power also. Thanks!
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:07 PM on February 15, 2016

Best answer: Honestly i learned the basics of using pivot tables in about 10 minutes just on Monday last week, and subsequently felt really stupid for never having gotten up the effort to try and use them before despite being a constant user of Excel. It was ridiculously simple, as easy as selecting options in a menu.
posted by lizbunny at 5:49 PM on February 15, 2016

Tableau has some pretty wild visualization features. The interface is pretty smart, you just need to watch the couple of 20 minute instructional videos on the website.
posted by gregr at 6:53 PM on February 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

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