Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Dex - Data Explorer, Bridging the Code Gap

Bridging the Code Gap with Dex - the Data Explorer

Dr Who Villains Data visualizations

Click to view Hover & Zoom to navigate

Click to view Hover & Zoom to navigate

Dr Who Villains searchable Table

Hello all, and a Happy New Year. Above you will find three interactive data visualizations to let you play with the Dr Who villains list from 1963-2012 published recently by The Guardian UKs Datablog

All of these were made with just the data in a comma separated value text file (.csv) and an excellent tool called  Dex (the Data Explorer) Developed by Patrick Martin. Free to download and Open source.

The great thing about Dex is that it bridges the coding gap. I've mentioned before that, if you cannot code, your options for designing interactive data visualisations for the web are very limited. Tools such as Tableau, Spotfire and Qlikview, even MSExcel, provide a route to building interactives but are spoiled both by their limitations, and their diversity. This may seem paradoxical, but too much choice can interfere with design as much as too little  - especially if that wide choice must be fully explored before you find that what you want isn't there.

Dex, recently transformed by the inclusion of d3.js, provides a wide menu of options and a simple interface which allows you to plug in your data, manipulate it, and come up with smooth, good looking  and functional visualizations in minutes. 

Another nice touch is, if you look at the chord diagram above, you can customize it to suit your own preferences. The recent addition of optional colorbrewer palettes is another huge step forward. This feature, all managed by the browser, solves the problem of designing to colourblindness, as the viewer can change the palette to her preference.

So, currently my absolute favourite, please check it out for yourselves and let me know what you think.

You can follow Patrick on twitter here: @patrickm145, and everything you need to know about him and his excellent project is here (again) Dex (the Data Explorer)