Data Visualisation

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See where you stand

From crime statistics to sentiment polling, data plays an increasingly important role in the political process. But it can be hard to cut through Excel sheets filled with hundreds of numbers and fields, or to see a long-term trend in a wavering line of percentages.

But the web has been leading the way in the growing popularity of data visualisation. The data visualisations of the past were static and unresponsive. Web technologies offer the potential for graphs that update in response to real-time data, or maps that offer rich interactivity and animation for users.

Storing our data

In our example, we have saved our own data in the JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) format. This is one of several formats that store data in a way that is easy for computers to understand; others include XML (Extensible Markup Language) and CSV (Comma Separated Values).

While our example uses a static dataset, this could just as easily be a lengthy dataset released under a government's open data policy, or even live data charting search results on a social networking service.

Visualising our data

When it comes to visualising our data, we are limited only by our imagination. There are lots of libraries and platforms out there that provide a great starting point for turning our raw data into a beautiful visualisation. Google provides an easy-to-use library called Google Chart Tools, and this is what we've used below.

Listen to the lesson to see how it works. Tip: on line 27 where it says "ColumnChart", delete it / change it to "PieChart" or "BarChart" and see what happens... have fun!

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