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February 2, 2008

Data Visualization Google Gadgets

Last year, Google acquired a data visualization technology from Gapminder, a Swedish non-profit organization. Gapminder's technology, Trendalyzer, was used to visualize data from United Nations Common Database in an intuitive way. To quote from Gapminder's site, "this software unveils the beauty of statistical time series by converting boring numbers into enjoyable, animated and interactive graphics." For example, you could see the evolution of carbon dioxide emissions in a country over time or find correlations between CO2 emissions and the income per capita.

Google probably intends to use this technology to visualize custom data. One of the interfaces that will allow you create your own Trendalyzer visualizations is an iGoogle gadget which creates a Flash multi dimensional chart. The input is a file with the following structure: the first column is the item's name, the second is time, the third is for x-coordinates, the forth is for y-coordinates, and the fifth is the size of a ball. I tried to upload a file that has this structure, but the gadget didn't accept it. The gadget is probably a part of a new service that also hosts your data.


This is not the only data visualization gadget developed. Another gadget creates an interactive table that supports filtering and grouping, the simple table gadget lets you perform queries, while the heat map gadget "displays a map with color intensities that match given values". There are also gadgets for pie charts, column charts, bar charts, area charts, image lines, scatter charts, organizational charts, time series.


Hopefully we'll be able to actually use these gadgets and Google will create a service around visualizing data.

Update: The gadgets are a part of a new Google Spreadsheets feature.

17 comments:

  1. Documentation for these things is either terrible or non-existent. Are these actually produced by Google? If so I hope they start requiring better documentation before they go out to the public.

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  2. From code.google.com/apis/charts are they making out gadgets from it ?

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  3. They're obviously created by Google (the gadgets are hosted at google.com/ig/modules, each description contains "Official Google Gadget" etc.) I think you can't use the gadgets because they are a part of something bigger.

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  4. IBM also has a powerful data visualization technology that allows you to embed the visualization you create into any website. Someone can probably create a Google Gadget out of this.

    http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/home

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  5. I tried using a Google spreadsheet as input into one of these (the time chart gadget) with no luck. Has anyone else gotten one of these to work with a Google spreadsheet as input?

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  6. many-eyes.com is also a great visualization site already.

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  7. www.spotfire.com has had this technology for years. Looks like Google is finally getting on the bandwagon (and 'borrowing' some of the Spotfire ideas).

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  8. @aditya - I think you are correct - an almost identical set of plotting functionality to these gadgets are available, with instruction to how to use them.

    I imagine until the documentation is in place for the gadgets using the Google Charts API is the best way to get this functionality. The XY scatterplot even has the data point size "3rd dimension" - very cool!

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  9. According to a Wired article from January:

    << Sources at Google have disclosed that the humble domain, http://research.google.com, will soon provide a home for terabytes of open-source scientific datasets. The storage will be free to scientists and access to the data will be free for all. (...)

    Building on the company's acquisition of the data visualization technology, Trendalyzer, from the oft-lauded, TED presenting Gapminder team, Google will also be offering algorithms for the examination and probing of the information. The new site will have YouTube-style annotating and commenting features. >>

    So watch this URL: http://research.google.com.

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  10. Check out a new free service that let's you define the data you want to track and then graph it using a variety of graph styles (bar, area, line). They allow you to keep the data private, share it with friends/colleagues, and publish the graphs using URLs, an embedded viewer, and a custom iGoogle gadget. You can also enter data from your mobile device, making this an easy way to gather your own data and graph it however you want. Check it out.... Track-n-Graph .

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  11. The gadget has now been taken down off the Google site without a word of explanation as to why (other than that it never worked in the first place!!)

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  12. The gadgets can be used in Google Spreadsheets. You can read some explanations from the help center.

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  13. Check out the www.worldbi.biz web site. They are developing business intelligence tools on java +Flash. Their product suXess has many chart,' pivot tables, a realistic gauge etc. Plus these components can read from Google spreadsheets. They even developed Google gadgets, free to use anywhere which read data from Google spreadsheets and Google Finance. It is worth to look at it.

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  14. I just want to visualize data from an RSS feed in iGoogle. Can't find how to do it... anyone?

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  15. Looks good.

    One thing that really needs to happen is for people to be able to draw organisational charts that allow for Mia to be linked backwards to Julia for example. People, concepts, items, etc. often have multiple parents, and most visualisation software still works on a model that only allows a single parent. Not good!

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  16. can i have a open source code for motion chart gadget

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