Archive for the ‘Charting’ Category

Google Maps Elevation Web Services (Google)

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: A free, sans-API key solution from the web mapping giant for showing elevation (point or along custom path) for Google Maps Mashups either in the v3 API directly or separately as a stand-alone web service. And it returns JSON :) Thanks @lagerratrobe!]

Republished from Google.

The Google Elevation web service provides you a simple interface to query locations on the earth for elevation data. Additionally, you may request sampled elevation data along paths, allowing you to calculate elevation changes along routes.

The Elevation service provides elevation data for all locations on the surface of the earth, including depth locations on the ocean floor (which return negative values). In those cases where Google does not possess exact elevation measurements at the precise location you request, the service will interpolate and return an averaged value using the four nearest locations.

With the Elevation service, you can develop hiking and biking applications, mobile positioning applications, or low resolution surveying applications.

Check the documentation out over at Google . . .

Wordalizer tag cloud script for InDesign | A Tribute to Wordle (Indiscripts)

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Looks like my earlier post on Wordle helped Marc Atret implement tag clouds (word clouds) in InDesign.]

Republished from Indiscripts.

Wordalizer is a word cloud builder for InDesign CS4. Try now the beta version of this experimental script —inpired by the magnificent Wordle web tool created by Jonathan Feinberg.

I began to work on Wordalizer for InDesign in September 2008! Jonathan Feinberg had just launched its brilliant Wordle Java applet and I was highly impressed by the typographical perfection that Wordle could reach in word clouding. I was naively dreaming to operate the same way from the InDesign DOM! Too much confident in my scripting abilities, I still hadn’t realized how powerful the Feinberg’s core algorithm was, until I found this post on “Kelso’s Corner” blog. Feinberg says: “It’s not quite ‘simple bounding box,’ which wouldn’t permit words inside words, or nestling up to ascenders and descenders. It’s full glyph intersection testing, but with a sprinkle of CS applied to make it work at interactive speeds.”

Yes indeed! The hardest part of the whole challenge is in speeding up hit-tests, and you can’t imagine what this Java performance problem looks like when translated into the InDesign JS context! After remaining at a standstill for a long time, I decided to start my script from the beginning again.

Continue reading at Indiscripts . . .

‘One of the worst graphics the New York Times have published – ever!’ (Alberto Cairo via Visual Journalism)

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: Are increasingly complex graphics (visual confections / data visualizations), aka chart porn & eye/brain candy, necessarily good at conveying essential information to readers? Alberto Cairo says no, see below. I have to wonder if he means just for daily minute-read journalism or for publications that have a tradition of offering readers, say, tear-out map supplements and posters they like to admire and reexamine. This might have been raised by the 2008 box office graphic from the NY Times, implementing a steamgraph, but the general question applies to all infographic professionals. We have awesome new tools and datasets, but we still need to focus on fundamentals, beyond interesting and visually appealing, to consider what as Lee Byron calls the “interplay between considerations of aesthetics and legibility.”

From Edward Tufte (p121 in Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative):

A confection is an assembly of many visual events, selected … from various Streams of Story, then brought together and juxtaposed on the still flatland of paper. By means of a multiplicity of image-events, confections illustrate an argument, present and enforce visual comparisons, combine the real and the imagined, and tell us yet another story.

Tufte actually shows a similar chart to the NYT box office example  in the same work from the cover of “Rock ‘N’ Roll is Here to Pay: The History and Politics of the Music Industry”. He says of the Rock and Roll example: “The multiple, parallel flows locate music-makers in two dimensions – linking musical parents and offspring from 1955 to 1974, and listing contemporaries for each year.”

But what fundamentals and what audience? A later NY Times graphic on How Different Groups Spend Their Day resolves part of the box office problem with an ability to focus (isolate) parts of the stream into a standard axis chart and thus read and compare quantitatively. Much less complicated, but also on a standard axis: Jackson’s Billboard Rankings Over Time. I don’t entirely buy the similar axis baseline argument as I’m a fan of graduated circle maps, but reading them is certainly not for the average reader and must be augmented with summary charting and text.

But the box office chart is more approachable (read fun and inviting) then simple charting per Why Is Her Paycheck Smaller. But I think simple axis presentation of Taking apart the federal budget is easier to read at first glance then the multi-axis Obama’s 2011 Budget Proposal: How It’s Spent, even if I use the same approach in the Washington Post’s Potus Tracker to analyze Obama’s schedule. At the core is trying to make increasingly complex datasets (2) grockable visually. Have fun figuring it out and in the meantime enjoy this XKCD comic ;)]

Republished from .

Alberto Cairo is a former professor at Chapel Hill, where he taught online graphics. Before that he was the succesful graphics director at El Mundo Online. In short: This guy knows what he is talking about, when it comes to both printed and online graphics …

Today Alberto took a critical look at the current data-visualization-trend, which got a huge boost last year, when New York Times took home a gold medal and even the ‘Best of Show’-award for a certain Box Office graphic. Regular readers of this site will remember the discussion we had last year after the awards. Click here to read it again.

Emperor’s new clothes
What Alberto is saying out in the open now, has been floating around for a while. But apparently only a few dare to say that graphics are getting too complicated – for fear of being looked upon as stupid, if they dare challenge such abstract wonders. I can’t help to think of the Emperor’s new clothes, whenever such a situation takes place.

Continue reading and view video of Alberto at

Best Jobs in America (Focus)

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Cross indexed infographic based on pay, economic sector, sex, ethnicity, and selected interest areas (like benefits to society). Systems Engineer at the top. Data slightly out of date (women have overtaken men in workplace). Seen via @VizWorld via @GeoEntelechy.]

Republished from Focus mag.

View full size version . . .

Google Public Data Explorer (information aesthetics)

Monday, March 15th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Summary of data visualization web apps with focus on the new Google Public Data Explorer which has a good mix of charting and mapping. Interesting Google has approached the visualization space with their Flash API. Some offer private data but most take a shared-data (public) storage system.]

Republished from Information Aesthetics.

Google Public Data Explorer [google.com] is yet the latest entry in the ongoing race to democratize data access and its representation for lay people. Similar to Many Eyes, Swivel, Tableau Public and many others, Google Public aims to make large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As a unique feature, the charts and maps are able to animate over time, so that any meaningful time-varying data changes become easier to understand. The goal is for students, journalists, policy makers and everyone else to play with the tool to create visualizations of public data, link to them, or embed them in their own webpages. Embedded charts are also updated automatically, so they always show the latest available data.

Continue reading at Information Aesthetics . . .

NodeXL: Network Visualizations in Excel (Visual Business Intelligence)

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

[Editor's note: Visualizing complex connection topologies is made easier with a new plugin for Microsoft Excel. Now someone needs to port it to Flash ActionScript 3!]

Republished from Visual Business Intelligence.

This blog entry was written by Bryan Pierce of Perceptual Edge.

The chances are good that you’ve seen network visualizations before, such as the one below in which the circles and octagons represent large U.S. companies and each connecting line represents a person who sits on the board of both companies.

(This image was created by Toby Segaran: http://blog.kiwitobes.com/?p=57)

While these types of graphs have become more common in recent years, there’s still a good chance that you’ve never created one yourself. This is because, traditionally, to create network visualizations, you’ve either needed specialized (and often unwieldy) network visualization software or a full-featured (and usually expensive) visualization suite. That’s no longer the case. A team of contributors from several universities and research groups, including the University of Maryland and Microsoft Research, recently released NodeXL, a free add-in for Excel that allows you to create and analyze network visualizations.

Using NodeXL you can import data from a variety of file formats and it will automatically lay out the visualization for you, using one of twelve built-in layout algorithms.

Continue reading at Visual Business Intelligence . . .

State of Salmon Interactive Data Graphic (Periscopic)

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

[Editor’s note: This Flash-based info graphic / report from Periscopic is a delight. They are based in Portland, Oregon and have an impressive client list. The company tag line of “Living in a world of data – and offering  a better view” is evident thru the project’s sophisticated quantitative analysis tools, accessed thru the Hydrography, Clusters, Historical, and List tabs. Thanks Wilson!]

Republished from Periscopic.

Salmon are a cultural and biological keystone of life around the Pacific Rim, uniquely linking freshwater and marine ecosystems. They form an irreplaceable mosaic of populations across land and water. This assessment, the first in a series on Pacific salmon, focuses on loss of biodiversity in one species – sockeye salmon.

Interact with the original at Periscopic . . .

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How to split up the US (Pete Search)

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Topology analysis of the Facebook social network (how many people in one town are connected to another) overlayed on a curious map base in geographic and regrouped into regions like Greater Texas, Socalistan, and Mormonia. Not quite sure of how the author define's Pacfiica and the map suffers from poor red-green contrast but cool concept.]

Republished from Pete Search.

As I’ve been digging deeper into the data I’ve gathered on 210 million public Facebook profiles, I’ve been fascinated by some of the patterns that have emerged. My latest visualization shows the information by location, with connections drawn between places that share friends. For example, a lot of people in LA have friends in San Francisco, so there’s a line between them.

Looking at the network of US cities, it’s been remarkable to see how groups of them form clusters, with strong connections locally but few contacts outside the cluster. For example Columbus, OH and Charleston WV are nearby as the crow flies, but share few connections, with Columbus clearly part of the North, and Charleston tied to the South:

Columbus Charleston

Some of these clusters are intuitive, like the old south, but there’s some surprises too, like Missouri, Louisiana and Arkansas having closer ties  to Texas than Georgia. To make sense of the patterns I’m seeing, I’ve marked and labeled the clusters, and added some notes about the properties they have in common.

Continue reading at Pete Search . . .

Animated map: The evolution of Metrorail, 1976-2010 (GGDC)

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

[Editor’s note: When the mode of thinking is interactivity, its nice to see animation used to it’s potential. Thanks Jaime!]

During December’s snowstorm, we wrote that the worst December storm since 1982 would (and did) create a Metro system with about the same number of stations as in 1982, as did this weekend’s storm.

This raises the question, what exactly did the rail system look like in 1982? Or other years? To answer that, I created a little slideshow:

Continue reading and see the animation at Greater Greater Washington . . .

Screenshot below:

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Taking apart the federal budget (Wash Post)

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

[Editor’s note: Great storytelling and numerical analysis of Obama’s 2010 federal budget from The Washington Post. The introductory charting is on a single axis making it easy to compare where the money comes from and where it goes. The next tabs dig deeper, focusing on historical trends (multiple axis) and a look at the surplus/deficit. Kudos to Karen, Laura, Wilson, Jackie! Brand X uses a Tree Map visualization instead.]

Republished from The Washington Post. Feb. 2, 2010.

Interact with the original at The Washington Post . . .

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