Promising New Visualization Developer's Took Kit

Of all the open source developer visualization tool kits I’ve seen so far, the one I stumbled upon today (thanks Moritz Stefaner), named Protovis, seems the most practical and easy to use. Protovis comes from Stanford’s visualization group, with the help of Jeff Heer and Michael Bostock.

Below is a screen grab of some of the visualizations created using Protovis.


While there are some graphs in the examples that we might want to stay away from, those radial fan (sunburst?) type charts are just plain confusing, I think the ability to construct high-quality and insightful charts in this software makes it a winner. You can do horizon charts using Protovis. See Stephen Few’s favorable review horizon charts here. You can do sparklines and sparkbars as well. And if you want to put interactive or animated visualizations together, Protovis lets you do that too.

Other developer tool kits I’ve dabbled, namely Flare and Processing, both very powerful and flexible, seem much more difficult to learn than Protovis. And I’ve yet to find a way to generate simple bar and line charts in either Flare or Processing, but that might be just my lack of experience with those tools talking.

What do you think?

More examples and download link for the software at


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Author: John Munoz

2 thoughts on “Promising New Visualization Developer's Took Kit

  1. Hi Ralph,

    Great to hear from you again.

    The bubble plots shown on the example page, here, aren’t great, but I suppose they could be made better w/o too much effort. I know that JMP (3rd slide in), from SAS, has an excellent bubble chart tool, which includes the ability to easily animate a bubble plot over time. They did a pretty good job copying Hans Rosling’s creation. You can get a shrink wrap copy of JMP for $750. If you’re a student somewhere, you can pick it up for a lot less.

    Google also has a bubble plot tool, which is free and can be found here

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