Visualisation of data: free software
In decision making, getting and analysing the right data is critical. However, often tables and even basic charts, do not go far to assist us in understanding the patterns and relationships. Excel has come a long way over the years, but still has its limitations when it comes to charting.
The first is Tibco Spotfire. This is an incredibly powerful and easy to use software program that can easily show 5 dimensions on one chart – and it has the ability to filter, sort, and segment with sliders and other tools. You can basically display a wide variety of “pivot table” output without even creating the pivot table (it does it for you). Tibco has a wide array of (fantastic) products and is commercially available, but there is a free one year trial cloud version available at http://spotfire.tibco.com/silverspotfire/default.aspx .
The second is software that creates “sparklines” within Excel. Sparklines are miniature, high density, graphics designed by Edward Tufte (see his book in recommended reading):
“A sparkline is a small intense, simple, word-sized graphic with typographic resolution. Sparklines mean that graphics are no longer cartoonish special occasions with captions and boxes, but rather sparkline graphic can be everywhere a word or number can be: embedded in a sentence, table, headline, map, spreadsheet, graphic.”
From Edward Tufte’s book Beautiful Evidence.
Incredibly, Fabrice Rimlinger offers software to create these charts for free (but please make a donation to him) and can be downloaded from his blog at:
If anyone knows of other sources of free visualisation software, why not leave a comment at the bottom of the page and we can share more of these wonderful tools and together we can:
“Improve lives through better decisions!”
If you have not seen it, check out our new product INSTRAT – to help you get the most out of your team by tapping into their ideas and thoughts. It will improve your decisions and improve motivation. Or read the article on Fair Process to better understand the underlying concept.
For assistance in using these tools and in visualising your data and concepts, contact Simon Gifford at firstname.lastname@example.org .