I’ll be in Mexico City next November 8 and 9 to give a talk and a one-day workshop in the second edition of the Infovis International Summit of Visual Communication. This event started last year with a star roster of speakers (Alberto Cairo, Fernando Baptista, Jaime Serra and Alberto Lucas, among others) and was very well received. It’s a venue to show the methods of some of the most relevant professionals in infographics, data visualization, interactive graphics and information architecture. The event is organized by Juan Carlos Ramírez and supported/hosted by UAM (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana) in Cuajimalpa, Mexico City.
This year the invited speakers are Erika Espinosa of Deftly Creative, Lazaro Gamio from Axios, Angel García from Nuestro Diario (Guatemala), Antonio Farach from the Times of Oman, Lauren Tierney from The Washington Post, and myself. There will also be different one-day workshops taught by Angel García, Lazaro Gamio and myself. You can register in this page (prices are in Mexican pesos).
If you follow Infovis in Twitter (@INFOVIS_), it’s a great source for news on infographics and data visualization.
Anyone interested in creating their own data visualizations should be giddy with delight with the quickly growing number of tools available to create them without any need for programming skills, and in most cases for free: Tableau, Flourish, Datawrapper, RawGraphs, Chartbuilder or QGIS (for mapping) are some of the best, and the list goes on and on. I’m convinced in a relatively short time drag and drop tools with be as powerful and flexible as D3.js and other developer tools, making data visualization accesible to everyone.
The exciting news is seeing two software giants entering the field with new web-based tools: Adobe launched Data Illustrator a few months ago in a collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Microsoft Research is behind the just released Charticulator. Both work very intuitively, allowing the author to bind multiple attributes of data to graphical elements. They are indeed powered by D3.js, among other libraries.
Both offer introduction videos in their hope pages. Here is Data Illustrator:
And here is Charticulator:
The tools offer tutorial sections and multiple step-by-step videos in their galleries; and they link to the research papers describing the tools, which are worth reading (Data Illustrator, Charticulator).
Creating complex visualizations like the chord diagram below seems ridiculously simple in Charticulator, and the same can be said of Data Illustrator’s visualizations. See the video:
This is not a review as I have just started playing with them, but on first look both tools are impressive. It’s still really early in their development, but if Adobe and Microsoft throw their mighty resources to support and improve them, we can expect great things in the near future. Perhaps one day Data Illustrator could be embedded within Adobe Illustrator, allowing designers to work fluidly and easily between D3 and Illustrator without leaving the graphical interface. And Charticulator could integrate into PowerPoint. Stay tuned!
5W Academy is heading to San Francisco in a few days for our next Infographics and Data visualization workshop in the US. It will be on May 10-11.
We received great feedback from our Washington D.C. workshop last week. A combination of local and out-of-state participants from government agencies, design and advertising studios, NGOs and other organizations got together for two days (photos above and below).
The two-day workshop is a comprehensive introduction to the creation of infographics and data visualization. With a mix of theory and practice, the workshop is aimed at professionals and students interested in developing the skills to produce engaging, insightful visual storytelling with their content. No previous experience with infographics or specialized software is required.
We will learn about gathering and preparing data, the Do’s and Don’ts of working with numerical information and charts, and the principles of visual hierarchy, color, typography, illustration, and narrative to create impactful infographics.
Attendees will sketch out infographics, storyboard motion graphics and create / publish their interactive data visualizations and web maps with the help of Tableau Public, Flourish and other tools for non-programmers. The class will discuss award-winning projects and offer an overview of tools and strategies for creating infographics and data visualization.
After San Francisco, our next workshop will be in Singapore, the next edition of our popular Power of Infographics workshop (May 24-25), hosted by our friends at Methodology.
Learn more about the instructors and schedule of our San Francisco workshop in our page or register directly here. See you soon in California!
Anyone interested in data visualization with Tableau should take note of a new book being published this month: Practical Tableau — 100 Tips, Tutorials, and Strategies from a Tableau Zen, by Ryan Sleeper (published by O’Reilly). The book is a comprehensive and useful overview that can be used by complete beginners as well as by people with more advanced skills. Structured as a collection of 100 short “tip” chapters, it has multiple step-by-step tutorials to build a broad variety of chart types and introductions to working with filters, parameters, calculated fields, and other advanced options in Tableau. It also outlines principles of storytelling with data, using color, dashboards, etc. Overall, it’s an eminently practical guide that I can easily recommend (another great Tableau guide is this book by Ben Jones).
During our 5W Academy workshops (next in Washington D.C. and San Francisco), we do a few hands-on exercises with Tableau. It’s a powerful and intuitive drag and drop tool to build data visualizations.
Tableau has some shortcomings: a couple of examples are the less than optimal handling of responsiveness for different screen sizes, or the lack of map projections (although Tableau now works with spatial files such as shapefiles, GeoJSON, KML, etc.). And it’s a closed system. For simple charts/maps and limited datasets many users maybe be better served by using Datawrapper, Flourish or other recent and excellent open-source dataviz tools for non-developers, but Tableau’s robust and comprehensive data analysis capabilities still make it a preferred tool in many organizations. As an example, the United Nations just announced it’s adopting Tableau as their visual analytics standard across its multiples agencies.
Practical Tableau is due to be released this month as a paperback, and the Kindle version is already available.
I’ll be back in Singapore on May 24-25 teaching a new edition of the 2-day workshop “The Power of Infographics” organized by Methodology. Fortunately, the workshop has continued to be in high demand and is nearing the 10th edition since 2015.
Methodology was co-founded by two of the most talented designers in Singapore: Brian Ling of Design Sojourn and Jackson Tan of Black Design and contemporary art collective Phunk. It organizes public and corporate workshops in Singapore and the rest of South East Asia. “We believe that design can make a positive difference to the world and we seek to be custodians of this change by curating and sharing the world’s best creative ideas and design processes. We collaborate with global leaders at the forefront of design, craft and innovation to develop education programs, workshops, conferences and media.”
The workshop is attended by a mix of professionals including designers, marketers, students, and civil servants from different areas of the government. They are looking for an introduction to visual storytelling and the principles, tools and techniques to find visual insight in our content by using infographics, charts, maps and data visualization (both in print and online).
Register here or contact Methodology at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Hong Kong is hosting a great infographics summit next week. The event is organized by the Society for News Design (SND) in collaboration with the award-winning infographics team of the South China Morning Post, undoubtely one of the best news graphics teams in the world with their great combination of illustrated infographics and data visualization.
I was planning on attending right before my next workshop in Singapore, but unfortunately my dates have moved (now I’ll be in Singapore on May 24-25)
The SND Hong Kong event is hosted by the prestigious Journalism and Media Studies Centre of the University of Hong Kong (HKU). I taught a workshop in Shanghai’s location of HKU a few years back, they have excellent Journalism programs.
The event starts on April 13 with a one-day series of conferences. The list of speakers includes representatives from many of organizations creating the best news graphics in Asia, such as the South China Morning Post, Bloomberg, Reuters, AFP, The Wall Street Journal and more, and other panelist of the caliber of Javier Errea from Errea Comunicacion and Alberto Lucas from National Geographic. See the full agenda here.
The summit will be followed by a two-day workshops at HKU. Attendees will visit selected sites on Hong Kong Island to develop a visual story, guided by the South China Morning Post infographics team. The workshop is already sold out.
Let’s hope this initiative becomes a regular event in the infographics calendar!
I was in Singapore a few days ago teaching a 2-day workshop on Interactive Infographics and Data Visualization for the staff of Mediacorp. The course was organized by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
Mediacorp is the largest media broadcaster in Singapore with multiple radio and television channels (including its flagship Channel NewsAsia, one of the main TV news channels in the world), as well as digital news sites. It’s the main media company in the country along with Singapore Press Holding (SPH), the publisher of Straits Times.
Mediacorp stopped printing its newspaper Today last year and is now entirely focused on digital content, training its news staff to adapt to digital storytelling. Over the two days of the workshop, conducted at the gleaming new Mediacorp campus, teams for digital news in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil language focused on different forms of digital storytelling through infographics and dataviz. We looked at animations and storyboarding, designing graphics for smartphones, concepts of interactivity and navigation in different platforms, graphics in social media, trends in the field, tools of the trade and more. The course involves plenty of hand-sketching to invite participants to focus on brainstorming and analyzing different approaches to telling a story, rather than on software use. But we also had a chance to do some hands-on work creating online data visualizations with free tools that require no coding skills such as Tableau Public and Flourish.
Our next workshops will be in Washington D.C. (April 26-27) and San Francisco (May 10-11)