Data display options

Here are some ways we can display data on, along with links to tools or external services for creating tables, graphs and other visualizations.

(Not sure when to use a line graph, bar graph or area graph? While this site is for kids, the National Center for Education Statistics' "How to Choose Which Type of Graph to Use" is actually pretty helpful.)


Internal tools

Cut and paste Excel data into one of these tools and it will generate the code you need to embed in an article for any of the following:

  Static bar graph

  Interactive bar, column or line graphs

  Sortable chart

  Pie chart

Viz options without a CW-coded tool

  More visualizations with Highcharts

  Maps with Fusion Tables (also does line, bar and pie charts)

  Detailed data slicing with Tableau Public

  Searching massive database with Caspio

  Embedded tables with Zoho

Static bar graph

This graph can plot a single series of data. Link to tool

Example static bar graph:

If your organization doesn't use Cobol, why not? (Multiple responses allowed.)

Cobol is an outdated language: 49%
We no longer have mainframes/We have discontinued Cobol: 42%
Cobol is an inferior language compared to the ones we use: 35%
Lack of Cobol skills in-house or in the labor market: 22%
Our enterprise is too small to have Cobol applications: 21%
Our enterprise is too new to have Cobol applications: 21%

Base: 77 IT professionals

Interactive bar, column or line graph

This option can visualize more than one series -- profits and revenues over time, for example. Readers can mouse over the graph to view underlying data and click items in the chart key to turn them off and on. The tool can produce bar charts (horizontal), column charts (vertical) or line graphs. Link to tool

Example interactive column graph:

Mouse over a bar to see data details; click on items in graph key to turn them off and on. Source: Apple earnings statements

Sortable chart

This displays the data in numerical, not graphical form. Columns are sortable. Link to tool

Example chart:

Worldwide Smartphone Market Share and Growth Rates

Operating System 2011 Market Share 2015 Market Share 2011-2015 Unit Growth
Android 38.9% 43.8% 23.7%
BlackBerry OS 14.2% 13.4% 18.3%
Symbian 20.6% 0.1% -68.8%
iOS 18.2% 16.9% 17.9%
Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile 3.8% 20.3% 82.3%
Others 4.3% 5.5% 27.6%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 20.1%

Growth is calculated as compound annual growth rate in units.

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, June 9, 2011.

Pie chart

Here is an example of an interactive pie chart. Link to tool

Source: My imagination

More visualizations with Highcharts

In addition to interactive bar, column and line charts where I've created a tool, Highcharts has a number of other visualization options. I'm happy to help create a one-off viz using those, or develop a tool for other types of visualizations. See the Highcharts gallery.

One potentially useful viz: A column chart that includes the option to click a column and get drilldown information. See drilldown chart.

Maps with Fusion Tables

This Google tool is easy to use to create maps from data, such as the one below. I'm happy to help set these up. Fusion Tables can also create line, bar and pie charts. Link to Fusion Tables

Detailed data slicing with Tableau Public

This free software (Windows only) can do very detailed dataviz, including filtering, searching and sorting. It's got a learning curve, but I can help create visualizations for your stories -- and I've got contacts at Tableau who are willing to help journalists use the tool.

The main drawback for the free version is that the data resides on Tableau's site as well as ours, it's not crawlable by search engines and other Tableau users can download the data and Tableau structure. That said, though, you can do some complex things with Tableau: See example

Searching massive database with Caspio

We have a very limited number of Caspio databases we can use to allow readers to search through very large amounts of data. This should be used for high value topics where readers would likely want to find specific information in data that's too large to display in a table. We used this for the cell phone radiation database:

JavaScript required to use search form.

Embedded tables with Zoho

This is a good option for tables that will be updated regularly, maintained by more than one editor and especially if they'll be used in more than one article. That's because Zoho tables are easier to update than raw html tables, and you just need to update them once in order for the changes to be displayed everywhere. Zoho tables can be searched, sorted and filtered.

The disadvantages? The Zoho UI isn't very intuitive, and the data doesn't live on our Web site so it's not search-engine crawlable. However, if you think this would be a useful tool for your data, I'd be happy to help you create one like the sample below:

More tablet info

The table below shows the most recently announced tablets as reported by Computerworld. Click a tablet's name in the leftmost column to read a news story or review with more information about the device, or view a larger table with more details about each product.

Table created by Computerworld staff using Zoho Creator.


Copyright © 2038 IDG Communications, Inc.

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