R, processing and some reflections on how to put some open source dynamic visualization of data in websites


After a short search in the website, I didn’t find some references about this stuff, so I’ll just drop here some questions, and some of my web-based research I’ve done to find answers to those.

  • How to make data better accessible to people ?

  • How to visualize complex ideas and datasets ?

  • How to integrate those tools in a website ?

  • Open source tools

There are two tools that I barely know of but that I want to learn to use (and to share my thoughts about thoses here). If in LOTE2 therre might be some users of those I would be very happy to learn from them basic uses…

“R is an open source programming language and software environment for statistical computing and graphics”. Basically, you write some code to access to a database, and to render from simple to complex graphs out of it. R is open-source and used by scientists and passionate users worldwide. You might take a look here : http://www.r-project.org/, look for some examples here : http://gallery.r-enthusiasts.com/thumbs.php, and try it out simply installing RStudio http://www.rstudio.com/ide/. R can be embedded as plugin in web CMSes (like tikiwiki - and others) - making available for everybody to share his datamining and research to peers - but has to run in your server.

“Processing is an open source programming language and integrated development environment (IDE) built for the electronic arts and visual design communities with the purpose of teaching the fundamentals of computer programming in a visual context, and to serve as the foundation for electronic sketchbooks”. More or less, processing opens a full-world of possibilities of still or animated, 2D or 3D visualizations of almost any kind of data. You can download and install it here : http://processing.org/download/, use its power to “draw” your own sketches here : http://studio.sketchpad.cc/, or simply browse examples here : http://www.openprocessing.org/. You can as well embed it in any website in javascript or flash plugins.

A book with stunning examples (in french, sorry) : http://fr.flossmanuals.net/processing/ch002_exemples-dutilisations (made during a five-days booksprint !!!).

Last, there is also Google fusion tables (not sure it’s OSS), which enables you to store huge datasets then to process it into meaningful schemes. For more info, see : http://support.google.com/fusiontables/answer/2571232/, some nice examples here : https://sites.google.com/site/fusiontablestalks/stories.

Do you know other examples of web-based data visualizing softwares ? Did you try some of those tools ?

Have a nice day,


When and in which contexts have you practically needed it?

Hi Joel,

I’d suggest posting your questions as a comment on the thread where alot of people are discussing the new platform development as it’s more likely to be reacted to: http://edgeryders.ppa.coe.int/community-heroes/mission_case/what-do-you-want-new-edgeryders-platform-software

I’d like to raise a point that Matthias made somewhere after the discussion had been ongoing for a while. It’s one to do with purpose, the WHY you want this stuff.  It is not clear that there is indeed an interest or need to access data in and of itself. I think part of what makes data accessible is the context and a frame of enquiry that drives interest from a large number of people to access, investigate and make data more accessible to thers. Have you seen the Guardian’s Data blog?

I tend to ask myself a few questions in developing the context: is it here? Is it now? Does it affect me? Is there anything I can do about it? If I can’t answer the above I have to keep digging until I have made it convincingly say yes to all the above questions.

Maybe start by describing some situations that you have come across in attempting to affect change there has been or is a need. Or cases where the availability of data or people’s ability to understand it has had clear effect on the outcome. I would even start with a number of case studies from your  experiences in the form of stories.

My 2 cents.


I am involved in a project that is planning to use d3. It’s a Javascript library, so it’s cross-platform and web-native.

You can still use R for data crunching (though I guess it’s overkill for the kind of stuff you have in mind), then stream the data to d3 for visualization. Here is a nice gallery of things you can do with it.

The core developer of d3 was hired by the New York Times for their data journalism unit.

Just two words :

  1. Wow

  2. Thanks