Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Language of Data Visualization

Last year the Financial Times released a poster designed to help people create data visualizations. The FT's poster provides a guide to lots of different methods of visualizing data (including different types of mapped visualization) and advice on when each method should be used. The Github page of the Visual Vocabulary poster includes external links to advice elsewhere on the internet on using each of the data visualization methods displayed on the poster.

Inspired by the FT's Visual Vocabulary poster Pratap Vardhan has released his own Visual Vocabulary - Vega Edition. This interactive version of Visual Vocabulary includes examples of each of the different visualization techniques created using the Vega visualization library.

The Visual Vocabulary - Vega Edition includes notes on a number of different methods for visualizing spatial data. Each of these is accompanied by an interactive Vega built map example. The data map visualizations include choropleth, flow-maps, dot density, proportional symbol, equalized cartograms, scaled cartograms, contour maps and heat maps. If you click on the edit buttons on these example maps you can open the map in the Vega Editor, where you can edit and change the actual visualization.

Both the FT's poster and the interactive Vega Edition of Visual Vocabulary provide a good introduction to how different types of spatial data can be visualized on maps. The FT's GitHub page also includes links to discussions about if and when maps should be used to visualize data.

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