Here are some of the more interesting tools demonstrated at the Computer-Assisted Reporting (CAR) conference last month. For a full list and in-depth review, see 22 free tools for data visualization and analysis, by Sharon Machlis (ComputerWorld, April 20, 2011)
- DataWrangler: web-based service from Stanford University's Visualization Group is designed for cleaning and rearranging data so it's in a form that other tools such as a spreadsheet app can use.
- Google Refine: can be described as a spreadsheet on steroids for taking a first look at both text and numerical data.
- The R Project for Statistical Computing: a general statistical analysis platform and environment.
- Google Fusion Tables: one of the simplest ways to visualize uploaded data, including map, heatmap, line chart, bar graph, pie chart, scatter plot, timeline, storyline or animation.
- Tableau Public: can turn data into any number of visualizations, from simple to complex. You can drag and drop fields onto the work area and ask the software to suggest a visualization type, then customize everything from labels and tool tips to size, interactive filters and legend display.
- Many Eyes: a pioneer in Web-based data visualization, IBM's Many Eyes project combines graphical analysis with community, encouraging users to upload, share and discuss information.
- VIDI: graphics created by the site's visualization wizard can be used on any HTML page. Upload your data, select a visualization type, do a bit of customization selection, and your chart, timeline or map is ready to use via auto-generated embed code (using an iframe).
Advanced tools, Coding required
- Exhibit: This spin-off of the MIT Simile Project is designed to help users "easily create Web pages with advanced text search and filtering functionalities, with interactive maps, timelines and other visualization."
IBM Word-Cloud Generator: if you're looking for easy desktop software dedicated to the task, IBM's free Word-Cloud desktop application fits the bill.
Other tools that can generate word clouds include Many Eyes and the Google Visualization API, as well as the website Wordle (which is a handy tool for making word clouds from websites instead of text files).
Social and other network analysis
- Gephi: this open-source beta project is designed for visualizing statistical information, including relationships within networks of up to 50,000 nodes and half a million edges (connections or relationships) as well as network analyses of factors such as "betweenness," closeness and clustering coefficient.
- NodeXL: This Excel plug-in displays network graphs from a given list of connections, helping you analyze and see patterns and relationships in the data.