8 cool tools for data analysis, visualization and presentation
What it does: This alpha project from the Knight Digital Media Center at UC Berkeley turns a Google Docs spreadsheet into an interactive, sortable database that can be posted on the Web.
What's cool: In addition to text searching, you can include numerical range-based sliders. Usage is free. End users can easily create their own databases from spreadsheets without writing code.
Drawbacks: My test application ran into some intermittent problems; for example, it wouldn't display my data list when using the "show all records" button. This is an alpha project, and should be treated as such.
In addition, the current iteration limits spreadsheets to 10 columns and a single sheet. One column must have numbers, so this won't work for text-only information. The search widget is currently limited to a few specific choices of fields to search, although this might increase as the project matures. (A paid service like Caspio would offer more customization.) The nine-step wizard might get cumbersome after frequent use.
Skill level: Advanced beginner.
Runs on: Current Web browsers
What's cool: With Highcharts, users can mouse over items for more details; they can also click on items in the chart legend to turn them on and off. There are many different chart types available, from basic line, bar, column and area charts to zoomable time series; each comes with six stylesheet options. Little customization is needed to get a sleek-looking chart -- and charts will display on iOS and Android devices as well as on desktop browsers.
Drawbacks: Highcharts, like Google Maps, does have a distinctive look, so you may want to customize the Highcharts stylesheets so your visualizations don't look like numerous other Highcharts on the Web. While charts displayed fine for me on an Android phone, they weren't interactive (they were on an iPad).
Skill level: Intermediate to Expert.
Runs on: Web browsers
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