Selected Data Vizualisation Tools:

1. RAW

Refer to link: http://raw.densitydesign.org/

Introduction: Raw is an open web app to create custom vector-based visualizations on top of the amazing D3.js library through a simple interface. Being an open and customizable project (LGPL license), anyone can download the application freely and modify it. Also, any data uploaded will only be processed by the web browser which ensures the safety of the information posted. There are no server-side operations or storages performed. Raw is often conceived as a tool for designers and vis geeks. After the visualizations, users are able to export them out in vector (SVG) or raster (PNG) format for embedding in web pages.

raw-data-visualisation

Image source: tried data visualizing on RAW using the sample data they provided.

Legend: production budget to be represented by size, genre defined by colour, IMDB rating to be represented by hierarchy and the labels are the movie names.

What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

This tool can produce 16 different kinds of visualizations namely:

  1. Alluvial Diagram (Fineo-like): Alluvial diagrams allow to represent flows and to see correlations between categorical dimensions, visually linking to the number of elements sharing the same categories. It is useful to see the evolution of cluster (such as the number of people belonging to a specific group). It can also be used to represent bipartite graphs, using each node group as dimensions.
  2. Bump Chart
  3. Circle Packing: Nested circles allow to represent hierarchies and compare values. This visualization is particularly effective to show the proportion between elements through their areas and their position inside a hierarchical structure.
  4. Circular Dendrogram: Dendrograms are tree-like diagrams used to represent the distribution of a hierarchical clustering. The different depth levels represented by each node are visualized on the horizontal axes and it is useful to visualize a non-weighted hierarchy.
  5. Cluster Dendrogram
  6. Clustered Force Layout: Nested circles allow to represent hierarchies and compare values. This visualization is particularly effective to show the proportion between elements through their areas and their position inside a hierarchical structure.
  7. Convex Hull: In mathematics, the convex hull is the smallest convex shape containing a set o points. Applied to a scatterplot, it is useful to identify points belonging to the same category.
  8. Delaunay Triangulation: The Delaunay triangulation, the dual of Voronoi tesselation, creates a planar, triangular mesh for a given set of points.
  9. Hexagonal Binning: Visually clusters the most populated areas on a scatterplot. Useful to make more readable a scatterplot when plotting hundreds of points.
  10. Parallel Coordinates: Parallel coordinates is a common way of visualizing high-dimensional geometry and analyzing multivariate data. To show a set of points in an n-dimensional space, a backdrop is drawn consisting of n parallel lines, typically vertical and equally spaced. A point in n-dimensional space is represented as a polyline with vertices on the parallel axes; the position of the vertex on the ith axis corresponds to the ith coordinate of the point.
  11. Reingold-Tilford Tree: The tree layout implements the Reingold-Tilford algorithm for efficient, tidy arrangement of layered nodes. The depth of nodes is computed by distance from the root, leading to a ragged appearance.
  12. Scatter Plot: A scatter plot, scatterplot, or scattergraph is a type of mathematical diagram using Cartesian coordinates to display values for two variables for a set of data. The data is displayed as a collection of points, each having the value of one variable determining the position on the horizontal axis and the value of the other variable determining the position on the vertical axis. This kind of plot is also called a scatter chart, scattergram, scatter diagram, or scatter graph.
  13. Small Multiples (Area): A small multiple is a series of small similar graphics or charts, allowing them to be easily compared.
  14. Streamgraph: For continuous data such as time series, a streamgraph can be used in place of stacked bars.
  15. Treemap: A space filling visualization of data hierarchies and proportion between elements. The different hierarchical levels create visual clusters through the subdivision into rectangles proportionally to each element’s value. Treemaps are useful to represent the different proportion of nested hierarchical data structures.
  16. Voronoi Tessellation: It creates the minimum area around each point defined by two variables. When applied to a scatterplot, it is useful to show the distance between points.

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

This tool does not allow for image analysis or uploading, which does not satisfy the requirements needed for my project – which is to upload the galleries of famous Instagrammers onto a data analysis site where patterns can be gathered on their aesthetics and editing styles. Additionally, this tool is suitable if I were to analyse numbers instead where it can show the varying trends and patterns.

As the web application I was considering to use for my project is currently unavailable, I am still in the midst of finding another suitable platform.

What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

This tool can help understand data that requires comparison to reflect the similarities and differences.

Examples of questions include: Which genre of movies does it generate the highest box office numbers? How many different genres made it to the top 100 movies list?

This tool can also help understand which area require attention or improvement. In the example for the movies’ ratings, the smaller the rating, the smaller the size of the graph.

Examples of questions include: Which movie has the smallest rating? What genre does it belong to?

In what format does this tool accept data?

This tool accepts data in text form. Users can simply copy paste the data in table form from excel directly to the tool.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

We would need to organise our unstructured data into different categories in an excel before uploading. After which, we can adjust the order of the information to be shown for the tool to visualise the information accordingly. We will also need to decide which visualization layout would be the most appropriate and map the dimensions.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

This tool seemed relatively simple to use – except for the understanding of the various visualisations that can be generated. Users will just have to follow instructions on the web-based tool and visualisations can be generated easily. I like the simplicity of the ‘drag and drop’ functions into the various sub categories. There is also an introductory video attached at the tool’s homepage to educate users on the process of using the tool. Also, if I want to share my work with others, the html link can just be copied easily below – or i can save my work as a PNG image.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

I do not think there is a need to hire an outside expert to be able to master this tool. Information has been stated clearly on the website, and it is relatively easy to use. If there is any unclear information with regards to the visualization types, the user can simply search online to see which visualization method is the most appropriate.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

Yes.

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

Using this tool in the context of my project – which is to find out what criteria does it take for an Instagrammer to be famous, this tool can be used to classify the various users into different genres. For instance, it can be used to group the number of Instagrammers who specialize in posting about food, fashion, quotes, travelling and corporate portfolios etc, into separate categories. Next up, it can then be cross referenced to see how many followers these users have, and use the dimension of a specific target group (aged 18, for example) to see which genre of users attract the target audience the most.

 

2. Tableau Public

Refer to link: https://public.tableau.com/s/

Introduction: Tableau Public is a data visualization application that is available for both Windows and Mac operating systems. Users are able to save their visualizations project on the free 10GB space provided and are able to connect with other Tableau users. This application prided itself with the live and interactive data visualizations authors are able to create.

tableau-public

Image source: Obtained from official website to showcase the interactivity of the data

Link: http://www.tableau.com/products/desktop

What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

This tool can produce 24 different kinds of visualizations based on varying needs. They include: side-by-side bars, symbol maps, text tables, highlight tables, heat maps, pie charts, filled maps, circle views, area charts, dual combinations, side-by-side circles, dual lines, scatter plots, bubble maps, candlestick charts and so on.

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

Likewise, this tool does not allow for image analysis or uploading, which does not satisfy the requirements needed for my project – which is to upload the galleries of famous Instagrammers onto a data analysis site where patterns can be gathered on their aesthetics and editing styles. Additionally, this tool is suitable if I were to analyse numbers instead where it can show the varying trends and patterns.

What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

This tool might help users to comprehend information easily since data can be extracted from various data sources, allowing users to see large amounts of data in clear, cohesive ways and hence draw conclusions from the information. Also, it is able to help identify relationships and trends with the wide array of graphical representations available for use for different kind of data.

Sample of questions that may be answered are: What is the movie-going trend for the year 2016 versus the year 2015? How has the prices of movie tickets hinder/support the rate of movie-going?

In what format does this tool accept data?

For the personal edition, the tool can connect up to 7 data sources namely, from Microsoft Excel, text files (like .csv files), Microsoft Access for Windows, OData, AzureMarketplace DataMarket, Tableau Data Extract and statistical files.

For the professional edition, the tool can connect to over hundreds of data sources. Please refer to attached image.

professional-data-sources

Image source: http://www.tableau.com/products/desktop

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

This tool’s advantage lies in the fact it is able to connect disparate data without the need for coding knowledge. This means that whether the data is in a spreadsheet, a SQL database, or the cloud, the tool is able to connect all together. Of course, an individual definitely should set up the various dimensions and categories first so data can be slotted in accordingly.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

In my opinion, the time taken to research about this tool, understand the different functions and finding out about the various editions available was relatively high enough to categorise this tool as an “intermediate” tool. As there is no web version of the tool, users will have to purchase and download the application. The numerous functions available made this tool seem more suitable for corporates and/or professionals albeit the ease of use. It shouldn’t be hard to master this tool with the drag-and-drop function however time is definitely needed to explore the various functions this tool can offer.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

As there is no need to understand code or know how to program for a user to use this tool, if an outside expert is needed, it will be a business analyst to educate on how to reveal more insights from the visualizations.  However, there is indeed a relatively steep learning curve for this tool – although there are plenty of tool resources available for the user to refer to.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

Yes, as disparate data can be uploaded from various sources. There is no strict requirement of organizing the data prior uploading for visualization.

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

As the data is live and interactive, and able to be visualized in two different graphs at the same time, different insights are able to be generated simultaneously. Also the tool’s unique selling point of “live”, “interactive” data to be featured on their dashboard which can be accessed easily, made it appropriate for projects that involve news reporting and/or real time financial analysis.

In the case of my final project idea, this tool can be used to see the increase/decrease in real live numbers for the following of the famous Instagrammers. A dummy account can also be created with the same style of photos to see the difference in numbers at real time.

3. ImagePlot

Refer to link: http://lab.softwarestudies.com/p/imageplot.html

Introduction: ImagePlot is a free software tool that visualizes collections of images and video of any size. It is implemented as a macro which works with the open source image processing program ImageJ.

image-plot

Image source: “Comparing 90,000 images from Digital Art category on deviantArt (left) and 90,000 images from Traditional Art category (right). In each image plot, images are sorted by average brightness (x) and average saturation (y). Software which analyzes these and other image properties is included with ImagePlot.”

Link: http://lab.softwarestudies.com/2012/11/imageplot-11-visualization-software.html

What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

This tool can visualize image collections as timelines and scatter plots which display all images in a collection. Clustering can also be done to see and compare sets of images which are similar in content or visual properties. These measurements can be visualized as line graphs, scatter plots, and image plots so as to enable users to see patterns of change over time in images’ visual characteristics.  Animated visualizations can also be created.

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

This tool is different from the previous two analysed because it allows users to see the entire image collection in a single visualization. Unlike existing visualization tools that show data as points, lines, and bars, ImagePlot’s visualizations shows the actual images in the collection.

The photos uploaded to this tool can be scaled to any size and organized in any order – according to their dates, content, visual characteristics etc. This helps especially for my project since image analysis will be crucial. Also taking into the various dimensions of photos individuals may upload onto Instagram, the ability to scale the photos is a plus.

This tool can also be used on digital videos, considering videos are just a set of individual still images, so patterns in films/animations/videos or any other moving image data can still be analysed. This helps as some of the media uploaded onto the Instagram gallery may be a mix of images and videos. I will not have to worry if th

What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

 

This tool helps to answer questions involving perceptions about images that are posted online (for example). Questions include: What kind of mental images do you gather when you see this visual post? Pictures posted can present other data that may not explicitly be revealed – for instance, the settings, the relations, characters involved, and mental emotions. Questions include: Using five senses, illustrate what do you see? What conclusions can you draw from the imagery?

In what format does this tool accept data?

This tool accepts any images be it colour or grey scale images. The picture format does not affect the tool as well as ImagePlot works with most common data formats – be it JPEG or TIFF, Excel, or .txt, ImagePlot is compatible. Additionally, since the tool is also compatible with a lot of other applications for media cataloguing, data analysis and information visualization, users can prepare and edit data from external data sources.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

Collection of the various images that fit into the project scope will be the first step. It will be crucial to sieve out the unimportant pictures that don’t fit into the project analysis. After which, grouping or clustering of the photos can be done to set the various parameters for analysis.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

I will not say it is difficult, except for the preparation for the photos to be posted. (refer to previous question)

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

Exploring and experimenting with the tool takes time with the lack-of guiding videos and resources online for this application. I will say an outside expert in image analysis should be engaged to see how the varying data points can be linked and also possibly to conduct sentiment analysis.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

Yes I should think so.

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

Since this tool focuses on media collections, I will think this tool is suitable for projects like social media trends, user patterns in photo-taking, selfie-culture in Asian versus Western societies and so on. Patterns in existing metadata (i.e., dates, names, etc.), added annotations and keywords, or visual features (i.e., brightness, saturation, hue, shapes, etc.) can be explored. It can also be used to analyse the various cinematic styles for various film makers.

In relations to my project idea, the various visual characteristics can be gathered and visualized across the varying galleries available. The brightness/exposure level of the images can be adjusted according to the popularity level of the users. Colour tunes can be added across different users to images featuring similar items/individuals.

 

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