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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Data Visualization Tools

Chartle – a free online data visualization service that offers “simplicity, ubiquity, and interactivity,” in the creation of your charts and their publication online. The product offers users a wide range of data visualization options; users can create bar charts, column charts, pie charts, line charts, area charts, scatter plots, Venn diagrams, radar charts, organization charts, data tables, automated timelines, motion charts, gauges, and a wide variety of maps including simple maps, US and world intensity maps, address maps, and latitude/longitude maps.

Dipity – a free online digital timeline website that allows users to create free interactive timelines online where “users can create, share, embed and collaborate on interactive, visually engaging timelines that integrate video, audio, images, text, links, social media, location and timestamps.”

flare – “is an ActionScript library for creating visualizations that run in the Adobe Flash Player. From basic charts and graphs to complex interactive graphics, the toolkit supports data management, visual encoding, animation, and interaction techniques. Additionally, flare features a modular design that lets developers create customized visualization techniques.”

GapminderWorld – a dynamic “web-service displaying time series of development statistics for all countries.” It is an interactive software that allows the user to communicate, through animated graphics, with a plethora of statistics and see the relation between them, from various economic indicators to infrastructure development, from education statistics to climate and health conditions. Gapminder Desktop can be downloaded to use the service offline.

GeoCommons – an online data visualization site that allows users to create and share geographic data, maps, and analysis. Users can “easily create rich interactive visualizations to solve problems without any experience using traditional mapping tools.” In addition, the pro enables users to “visualize data from numerous sources to identify trends that were previously unseen,” and view their data “with real-time social data and the over 50,000 open-source data sets in GeoCommons.”

Google Public Data Explorer – an online visualization tool that enables users to easily explore and visualize large data sets. Google’s motion charts make it very easy to see and understand the changes as they have happened. The Explorer can be used by anyone who wishes to “create visualizations of public data, link to them, or embed them in their own webpages.” Additionally, “embedded charts and links can update automatically,” thereby providing the user with the ability to always share the latest available data.

Leaflet – provides a tiny mapping framework, designed to be small and lightweight enough to create mobile-friendly pages. Both Leaflet and Modest Maps are open source projects, which makes them ideal for using in your own sites: with a strong community backing them, you know they won’t disappear any time soon.

newradical software

NewRadial  – a program created specifically for the visualization of humanities data. Using this software, users can create nodes, create and edit commentary for a group of related nodes, edit connecting information as well as search results.

Open Heat Map – a tool created by Peter Warden that lets you create your own heat maps in literally seconds with either an Excel spreadsheet or a Google Docs spreadsheet. You can use the maps to illustrate patterns, highlight intensity levels, showcase regional differences, and much more.

Prefuse  – a visualization toolkit that contains “a set of software tools for creating rich interactive data visualizations.” In addition to offering features for data modeling, visualization, and interaction, the product also “provides optimized data structures for tables, graphs, and trees, a host of layout and visual encoding techniques, and support for animation, dynamic queries, integrated search, and database connectivity.”

StatPlanet –  an easy-to-use, interactive data visualization and mapping software that can be used to create maps, dashboards, charts, and graphs to bring your data to life. In addition to being browser-based, the product also offers the following downloads for use offline:  Map Maker to create fully customizable interactive maps and graphs with the ability to publish them online, World Database to visually explore over 250 development indicators to aid in the understanding of the world, and the Graph Maker to create interactive graphs and charts. – for the creation of data visualizations and infographics to tell stories about a dataset.

Wordle – an online software for creating word clouds from any text the user wishes – “the clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.” To make the visualizations appealing, users have the ability to modify their “clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.”


Here are some additional mapping resources available from the Census Bureau:

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