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Data Viz News [60]

Tableau 8.2 and all the other data visualization news, all in one place

June 21, 2014

After a long wait and lots of expectations, Tableau for Mac is here! The 8.2 version was released this week, and with several new features that have been, overall, praised and well-received by users. This is, unquestionable, our top news of the week, and the opening pick of this edition of Data Viz News.

Other interesting recent news include a couple of books from Ben Jones and Andy Kirk, new data visualization tools, an excellent gallery of mobile visualizations by Bocoup, and the usual career moves and acquisitions/merges announcements.

As for other content, such as interviews, keynotes, tutorials, and in-depth articles, you’ll find a bit of everything in today’s round up as well, on topics such as cartography, data journalism and big data. More than 30 links that will guarantee you several hours of reading.

We hope you enjoy this week’s recommended links – and have a great weekend!


Latest product launches and business announcements, career moves, data visualization competitions and general news.

Among the new features included on Tableau 8.2 – besides the Mac version, as mentioned in the introduction – , you’ll find new maps design, the visual data window and story points. For a list of all the additional improvements for Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server, click here.

Speaking of Tableau, Ben Jones‘ first book, Communicating Data with Tableau, has been published by O’Reilly Media and is now available to purchase in ebook or print (in full color) at the O’Reilly online store or Amazon. This book is an attempt to show 1) how to communicate data well, and 2) how to use Tableau to do so.

Another book makes its way into this space, but this one is just beginning, as Andy Kirk explains in this post. He just received approval to start work on his second book about data visualization, which will be published by SAGE. According to Andy, it will be aimed at covering in detail the practical craft of data visualization, and he’s confident that, with the professional support of SAGE, this second title will truly be the book he have wanted to produce.

Great news for all cartography/vintage visualization fans! More than 175,000 historical topographic maps from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are now available on ArcGIS Online. In the past, these maps have been available primarily as printed lithographic copies and more recently as a free, downloadable GeoPDF. Users with an ArcGIS Online subscription may now access the historical maps as high resolution georeferenced raster images for use in ArcGIS and web mapping applications.

The Mapbox GL framework now fully supports video integration directly into maps. The video is loaded in a hidden HTML5 video element with multiple source formats. From there the video is handled the same way any video element would be, with full control over pausing, looping and scrubbing.

Entrepreneurs and innovators can now access machine-readable research data in the areas of energy, healthcare, and space from more than 700 federal research and development facilities to assist them in researching, building, and testing new technologies through a major enhancement to the portal. The open data, from facilities belonging to the Energy Department, National Institutes of Health, and NASA, includes advanced research tools and represents billions of dollars of taxpayer-funded investment, said Doug Rand, assistant director for entrepreneurship at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in a recent announcement.

Andy Kirk highlights Visits, a new visualization tool by Alice Thudt, Sheelagh Carpendale and Dominikus Baur that lets you browse your location histories and explore your trips and travels. The tool is based on a research project from the University of Calgary. You can find the corresponding publication here.

“Our mission is to make data visual for everyone. Using our simple user interface we empower individuals and organizations to easily create and share beautiful visualizations.” That’s the introductory line for this new data visualization tool (yes, another one), and you can have a glance at the possibilities of thisw tool in the video below.


Back in January, the folks at Bocoup announced the receipt of a Prototype Fund grant from Knight Foundation to explore the question: how does one design data visualization for mobile devices? This week, they launched MobileVis, which is comprised of a (growing) collection of examples and conversations about data visualization use on mobile devices, where users can submit additional examples, and a (growing) collection of design patterns that they identify from those examples.

This native ad that ‘The New York Time’s created for Netflix’s Orange is the New Black is getting praise from, of all people, journalists, as reported here by Lucia Moses. The ad is the first to follow a change in the Times’ native ad policy. Until a few days ago, the Times has avoided posting its native ads to its social channels as other publishers do. But the Times has since created a Twitter account for its brand studio, which it’s now using to promote paid posts.

Predictive analytics company RapidMiner announced that it has acquired Radoop, a leading big data analytics solution for Hadoop, making Hadoop implementations more powerful and easy to use with RapidMiner’s advanced analytics suite. the terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sad news coming out from one of the most active and talented graphics desks in the United States. The entire department left the Orange County Register, with the exception of Jeff Goertzen, who published this update on his Facebook profile. We had the chance to feature the work of one of the departed infographic designers, Kurt Snibbe, a few weeks ago. Good luck to all of these talented professionals.



A selection of recent articles published by experts in different fields of data visualization:

An article by Jon Schwabish, originally published on the Urban Institute’s MetroTrends blog. Jon leaves some valuable tips for taking full advantage of “storytelling” in presentations, especially the ones involving research – a topic he also talked about in this exclusive interview.

Back in April, the debate surrounding the use of bars in a bar chart pointing down instead of up was revived, thanks to this chart published on Business Insider. Now, Robert Kosara tackles the effectiveness of this design option with several examples.

Showing data isn’t very difficult, but there are many clever and subtle ideas that can change the message and the way a chart is read. What do you want to stress? What do want people to take away? What is your intent in showing these numbers?


Alberto Cairo has an article (PDF) in the Spring issue of The IRE Journal, the magazine of Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. For those of you who follow Alberto’s opinions, most of the content in the article won’t come as a surprise. And if – by some strange and inexplicable reason – you don’t follow him yet, this is definitively a great way of getting yourself familiar with him.

Every time Kaiser Fung praises a visualization, you know that it must be worth checking out. The latest one is this interactive exploration of Boston’s subway system, by Mike Barry and Brian Card for a graduate course in Data Visualization at WPI. As Fung puts it, “this is a master class in linking multiple charts and using interactivity wisely.”

Partial screen capture of interactive infographic Visualizing MBTA Data
(image: Michael Barry, Brian Card)


A round up of visualizations about the World Cup, pulled together by Drew Skaw. For more examples of interactive data visualizations about the biggest sport event of the year, check out this, this and this.

And more interactive visualizations about the 2014 World Cup, this one compiled by Maite Fernandez, IJNet’s managing editor. Like in the previous case, many of these were already featured here on Visual Loop.

Occasionally, Andy Kirk invites folks to contribute guest posts to profile their work, ideas or knowledge. This guest post comes from Benn Stancil from a startup called Mode who have created a really interesting tool that allows you to reverse engineer analysis/visualizations in order to potentially take them in new directions.

Conducted by Moritz Stefaner, the Data Cuisine is an experimental investigation on the representation of data with culinary means. We mentioned this work for the first time a couple of years ago, and last week Moritz had the opportunity to give another edition of this workshop in Barcelona, that took place June 10-13, 2014, as part of the Big Bang Data exhibition at CCCB, and in coordination with Sónar. Check out the dishes designed and produced during the workshop here, and read about this event also on Moritz’ blog and on Visualising Data.

Unemployed Pan con Tomate, by Samuel Boucher & Jahn Schlosser, one of the dishes created at the Data Cuisine workshop


The World Bank asked the team at data visualization agency Chez Voilá to help them explore this option and fine-tune their efforts to fight fraud and corruption affecting the projects that they are financing. In this post, you’ll know more about one of the tools that they have developed to think and communicate about what they were looking for.

Data visualization skills are strongly in demand,and in this article Lucy Hodges talks about some of the courses available at institutions such as the London College of Communications, the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL and Swansea University‘s advanced computer science with specialization in visual computing MSc.

In a time when the 2014 World Cup is all over the news, Noel Bautista looks at the economical impacts of hosting such an event, analyzing the situation of the 2002 hosts, Japan and South Korea. This post focus only on Japan, and a comparison with South Korea’s impacts will follow soon.

Jorge Rivas looks at what the U.S. National Team competing at the World Cup would look like, if we’d take out the sons of immigrants. Also, for a similar analysis on all the World Cup teams, check out The Global Post’s article.

(image: Soccer Fusions)



Ranging from ancient charts to modern digital cartography and GIS technology, here you’ll find the best links of the week:

Digital cartography wizard Eric Fischer worked with the RunKeeper team to composite an entire planet’s worth of publicly-shared routes on an adjusted Mapbox Outdoors terrain layer. Here’s the result:

Partial screen capture of interactive infographic 1.5 Million Walks, Runs, and Bike Rides
(Image: Eric Fischer/RunKeeper)


Dating app Twoo is the latest company to get in on the animated heat mapping craze, and Keir Clarke criticizes, in this post, the use of the CartoDB Torque visualizations of social media data for the creation of such inaccurate and irrelevant maps.

It is a bit of a shame that the powerful Torque library is being used a lot in big data churnalism rather than in more serious and well thought out mapped visualizations.


If you’re into imaginary/fantasy cartography, then you’ll probably get a kick out of this quiz on maps from famous works of fiction put together by The Guardian. Nice tip by William Hughes.

More fantasy cartography, this one focused solely on “The Game of Thrones” books and television show. Keir Clarke revisited the many GoT interactive maps out there, to close his top five picks – many of which have already been featured in our weekly Digital Cartography column.



The most recent articles with tips, insights and best practices around data journalism and information design in newsrooms.

A nice initiative from the folks at Journalism ++, pulling together an exploratory interactive directory of data journalism professionals from around the world.

Partial screen capture of Global Data Journalists Directory
(Image: Journalism++)


As Jane Hu points out, “The New York Times, Washington Post, and Time contributed to a week of spectacularly bad social science reporting”. She quotes several articles with “easy gender narratives”, all supported by poorly done research and, ultimately, bad journalism. Andrew Gelman also wrote about this.

Luke Vnenchak, director of content management systems at ‘The New York Times’, published a detailed walk through of the paper’s Content Management System (CMS) recently, giving an interesting glimpse at the technology responsible for publishing 700 articles, 600 images, 14 slideshows, and 50 videos on a daily basis. Justin Ellis writes the story.

As data becomes a more dynamic tool for newsrooms, editors are faced with a new challenge: avoid the temptation to chase clicks, and make sure that they are using data to actually serve the story. This article by Myriah Towner (originally published on Content Strategist) brings together a couple of examples that illustrate that challenge.

An overview by Lauren E. Mack of the third installment of the Tow Center’s Innovation Showcase, a public two-day annual event thet highlights students’ transformation of their efforts into compelling and powerful digital journalism projects.

The emerging field of sensor journalism gives reporters a way to capture data where none exists, as Alyssa Mesich writes in this article. She shares some inspiring projects that use sensors, along with resources to get you started on your own project.



Recent articles related to the wide range of data visualization applications for business analytics, as well as content surrounding the “Big Data” buzz.

Paul Banoub‘s recently attended his first “Big Data Debate” event – a series of regular events focusing on all things data – , and shares with us his thoughts about Andy Cotgreave‘s presentation and the following discussion.

For Nicko van Someren, Chief Technology Officer at Good Technology, “just like the first wave of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), BYOW (Bring Your Own Wearable) is coming into the enterprise – and it’s coming sooner than you think.” Wearable technology has been around for a few years but recently it seems to be gathering more momentum, and in this article van Someren talks about some of the impacts for enterprises.

After Apple revealed its latest vision for ‘iBeacon’, its location-sensing technology, at last month’s Worldwide Developers Conference, the potential of in-store targeting, ad delivery and data collection came one step closer to becoming a standard for shopper marketing, according to this post by Sharon M. Goldman.

When Jeff Bertolucci recently posted a slideshow examining the latest trends in big data, readers responded in a big way, so he decided to write this follow-up post with more interesting facts.

For Walter Baker, Dieter Kiewell, and Georg Winkler – who sign this article -, the key to better pricing is understanding fully the data now at a company’s disposal. To achieve that, companies need to do four things: Listen to the data; Automate; Build skills and confidence; and Actively manage performance.



Insights from well-known names in the data visualization field, published during last week.

Glenn Greenwald – the journalist that broke the Edward Snowden/NSA scandal – updates his YouTube channel regularly with the interviews he has been giving, since that epic story went out. This is one of the latest ones.


Martin Belam is editor of new formats at Trinity Mirror where he drives its viral content generator Us v Th3m, data journalism site Ampp3d and Mirror Row Zed with its sport quizzes and LOLs. This is the second part of his interview with Emily Turner (see part one here).

Talking with… Adolfo Arranz | Visual Loop

And a mention to our latest exclusive interview, with the Spanish Hong Kong-based infographic designer Adolfo Arranz – one of the most awarded designers of the year, currently working at the South China Morning Post newsroom..

Adolfo Arranz' exclusive interview
Exclusive interview with Adolfo Arranz



Ranging from tutorials and presentations, to lists of tools and practical guidelines for creating effective data visualizations.

One of the topics Cole Nussbaumer often tackles in her workshops is the “the following conundrum”, a common challenge in storytelling with data, especially in presentations for the audience. She shares an example of how to leverage animation to walk that audience through your visual as you tell the corresponding points of the story.

This article was originally posted on an old site which no longer exists, and after recovering it, Jon Peltier posted it as it was. There are newer techniques for working with text files in Windows, but, as Jon says, “sometimes the old ways are as simple and effective as the new”.

Written by Simon Raper, this post shows how to create a Sankey diagram showing changes to clusters as more data is added. He wanted a way of understanding how a clustering solution will change as more data points are added to the dataset on which it is built.

These are some short courses Aaron Clauset gave throughout his teaching career. As he alerts, “none of these are substitutes for real technical coursework, but they are fun and broad dives through their topics”. The list includes links to lectures and other resources used in the courses.

In this webinar, Amanda Whitmire and Melissa Haendel, two researchers-turned-data-specialists, both based in academic libraries, share their experiences and perspectives on the development of research data services at their respective institutions.



An updated view at the Events Calendar we have available here on Visual Loop.

Data Viz Calendar


That’s it for another Data Viz News. Like we said before, feel free to let us know if we missed some interesting resource, and don’t forget to join us on our Facebook Group or, where we share many of the links mentioned above.

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.