Lisa Charlotte Rost Charts 12 Data Visualization Tools
May 20, 2016 3:55 PM   Subscribe

In an effort to get to know as many options to visualize data as possible, Lisa Charlotte Rost took the same dataset and visualized it with 12 different tools and 12 different charting libraries.

Which tool or charting framework do you use to visualize data? Everybody I’ve met so far has personal preferences (“I got introduced to data vis with that tool!”, “My hero uses that tool and she makes the best charts!”). Often we keep working with the first not-entirely-bad tool or language that we encountered. I think it can’t hurt to have a wider view of the options out there: To maybe discover better tools than the ones we use; but also to reassure us that the tools we use ARE really the best (so far).
posted by cgc373 (19 comments total) 89 users marked this as a favorite
This is very relevant to my interests. Thanks so much for posting.
posted by Superplin at 4:01 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

No bokeh?
posted by Going To Maine at 4:02 PM on May 20, 2016

Be still, my geeky data-driven heart... Thanks for this cool resource!
posted by carmicha at 4:08 PM on May 20, 2016

Going To Maine: Bokeh is in the 12 different charting libraries (as is Seaborn and an ugly default matplotlib)
posted by miguelcervantes at 4:14 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

"Axises," Gracie???
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:18 PM on May 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Weird website. On my iPad, it forces me to read the site in landscape mode. If I hold my pad in portrait, the sidebar covers the left third of the page.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:20 PM on May 20, 2016

Going To Maine: Bokeh is in the 12 different charting libraries (as is Seaborn and an ugly default matplotlib)

Aaah, just looked at part one. Still want to love Bokeh, still feel like it'll take too much time. Seaborn 4 eva.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:23 PM on May 20, 2016

I have a tiny bit of code in Seaborn.
posted by wintermind at 5:00 PM on May 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

I went through this excercise a few years back, and the conclusion was while we liked Highcharts a lot the licensing looked expensive, and while D3looked powerful it also looked complicated, so we ended up using jqPlot because it had been used on a previous project and it gave good enough results with next to no set-up, even if it was a bit old and didn't seem supported.

And then various change requests came in for things it did not support or if was difficult to coerce it into supporting...

Long story short we spent a lot of time kicking ourselves for not biting the billet and going with D3, which should be your choice in almost all cases.
posted by Artw at 5:33 PM on May 20, 2016

Interesting! I've just hacked together a force network diagram with D3 for one of my university assignments. I am literally in the middle of writing up the report as I procrastinate here on mefi.
posted by Miss Otis' Egrets at 6:14 PM on May 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

What, no gnuplot? Kids these days...
posted by clawsoon at 6:17 PM on May 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also, it’s far less complex and powerful than Excel, but “good enough” for the daily stuff I do in spreadsheets (split, unique, countif, ifelse, vlookup, max, average, median, simple math and pivot tables, because I loooove pivot tables).

This just isn't true, it does more stuff than Excel. This made me not trust the rest of the article.
posted by bleep at 6:33 PM on May 20, 2016

Bleep, I'm curious. I was also under the impression the Excel is more powerful than Google Sheets. What am I missing?
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:19 PM on May 20, 2016

Axises! So distracting.
posted by ctmf at 9:38 PM on May 20, 2016

Let's say I have this data set:

Name: Fruit:
Jane | Apples
Mary | Bananas
Adam | Peaches
Jane | Grapes
Adam | Watermelons

Now I want this result:
Jane | Apples, Grapes
Mary | Bananas
Adam | Peaches, Watermelons

To get this in Excel you'd have to go make a custom function (which I know because I had to do this before). With Google Sheets, you would:
1. Make a new tab
2. Put this into the first cell of the new tab:
UNIQUE (FirstSheet!A:A)
This would fill up the new tab column A like so:

Then in each cell of column B of the new tab do:
JOIN(", ",FILTER(FirstSheet!B:B,FirstSheetA:A=NewTab!A1))

Google Sheets has all kinds of formulas that Excel has never even heard of.
posted by bleep at 10:03 PM on May 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

On the other hand, Excel has a much richer library of available macro libraries and add-ons. Although I think that people who haven't used Sheets in a few years would probably be surprised by all the things it can do.
posted by atrazine at 4:59 AM on May 21, 2016

Yeah, I've created more bubble charts in excel than I would like, and having to add each bubble as a separate data series in order to get different colors is definitely a pain point.
posted by peacheater at 9:14 AM on May 21, 2016

I do some visualization work. And it astonishes me how every single time I want to do anything simple I end up frustrated by all the high level off-the-shelf tools and I end up spending half a day writing Javascript and D3 instead.
posted by Nelson at 10:50 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

No Root? That is the tool CERN developed after they found that no other tool would handle the amounts of data they were putting out.
posted by Canageek at 2:45 PM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

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