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Posts Tagged ‘charts’

Tool of the Day: Google Public Data Explorer

Last week, we talked about the Google Chart Wizard that allows you to create detailed charts and graphs. Google now has a new tool called the Public Data Explorer which combines the power of the Google Chart API with publicly available datasets. Here’s an example:

The Google Public Data Explorer uses datasets from organizations like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Office of Management and Budget from the Executive Office of the President. As you can see in the above chart, data can be filtered and animated across whatever factors are available in the dataset, and even supports geo-location. Organizations can upload their own datasets using an open source XML-based metadata format called the Dataset Publishing Language (DSPL). Example datasets and full documentation about DSPL are located at Google Code.

Visualizations of public data like this can add great context to news stories, and the embedded charts and links update automatically to share the latest data available from the dataset. The Google Public Data Explorer is a Google Labs project, so it is still a work in progress. You can give your feedback at the Google Public Data Explorer Group if you have any feature suggestions.

Tool of the Day: Google Chart Wizard

We’ve talked before about using Google Docs to help build charts and graphs using a simple spreadsheet. But with Google’s newest offering, the Google Chart Wizard, you can build even more robust and dynamic graphs through an easy to use interface with great customization options.

Google Chart Wizard

The new wizard allows you to quickly construct graphs from any set of numerical data without deciphering the mystery of the Google Charts API URL syntax. Right now, the wizard is limited to creating line charts, pie charts, bar graphs, radar charts, scatterplots, and more. Here is a quick graph I put together using a random data set:

Fall 2007 Semester Grades

The great thing about the Google Chart Wizard is the way you can present your chart once you’re done building it. You have the option of sharing the graph using a URL, or you can drop the single line of HTML code it provides you into any content management system. There is even an option to add your graph as a widget using the Google Chart API, which is a great choice for those who want a little more fine-tuned control over the graph’s presentation and functionality.

Aside from charts, you can also create QR codes, which are matrix barcodes that you can scan with your smartphone. The QR code below was generated using the URL for 10,000 Words.

10,000 Words

If you need a little inspiration to get you started, than that’s no problem either. The Google Chart Wizard also features a gallery of example graphs so you can get an idea of the sorts of visualizations you can put together using this handy tool.

Create your own graphs today at

Tools of the Day: Sparktweets and Chartwell

Two neat data visualization tools recently came on the scene which will be a great help for journalists and datamongers alike: Sparktweets and Chartwell.

Sparktweets is the brainchild of Zach Seward, Outreach Editor for The Wall Street Journal. Sparktweets builds on Edward Tufte’s invention, the sparkline, which is a small, high-resolution graph embedded in a context of words, numbers, or images. You see these mostly used on financial websites to describe the rise and fall of stocks, but Sparktweets takes this idea and builds on it by embedding Unicode histograms within Twitter’s 140-character limit. The effect is pretty neat. Take a look at these.

Sparktweets in @WSJ: ▇▆▆▇▇▇▇▅▂▁▁▂ Last 12 months of the U.S. unemployment rate than a minute ago via Sprout Social Favorite Retweet Reply

▁▆▇▃ Number of baby boys named Barack, 2007-2010. (5,52,69,28) #sparktweetless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Create your own Sparktweets here:

The second tool I came across recently is a font called Chartwell from font designer Travis Kochel with TK Type. Creating pie charts, line graphs, and bar graphs has never been so simple. Just type your data numbers into an equation and you can have a graph in just a few seconds. In line with current trends, you can also embed the use of this font using the CSS3 property @font-face to create live charts on the fly (currently, this only works in Firefox 4). Travis includes more information on the Chartwell page at

Chartwell Pie ChartsChartwell Pie Charts

Chartwell Line Charts

The fonts are $15 each (pie, bar, or line), or $40 for the entire set.