Thursday, February 1, 2018

A new data visualization tool: Flourish

(Full disclosure: the development of Flourish was partially supported by the Google News Lab. I have an ongoing consulting collaboration with the Lab, so I provided some feedback before the tool was launched.)

In the past I've praised several visualization tools, some of which are still part of my workflow — INZight or RAWGraphs— and others that I've been planning to incorporate into classes for a while, such as DataWrapper, Quadrigram, or Plotly. These tools contribute to the democratization of visualization, something I care about quite a bit. A new one, Flourish, has been launched today. I'd like to bring it to your attention.

I've been playing with Flourish's beta for a few weeks, and liked it so much that I recorded an informal video tutorial for my students. You can download it here or find it in the tutorials section of this website.

(Update: I've uploaded the videos to a YouTube playlist.)

Flourish lets you quickly develop tons of different kinds of graphs and maps. This is a screenshot of the templates available so far, with more coming soon:

Long story short: Flourish is a GUI for HTML/CSS/JS-based visualizations. Any graphic you design with the free version of Flourish can be embedded in your website or exported as an SVG, to be styled in applications such as Adobe Illustrator or InkScape. That's how I made these static maps in a few minutes, right after importing a clean data set of county-level vote in 2016 (click to expand):

Flourish is semi-free for everybody and completely free for news organizations (this is what Google News Lab is supporting; apply here.) This means that, if you are a journalist, besides being able to get your graphics as SVGs or embed them, like anybody else, you'll also be able to download the HTML, so you can manually tweak the code generated by the tool if you wish —or just save it in your computer.

You can read more about other capabilities of Flourish in the press release, which I posted below. If you are a coder, for instance, you can design your own templates and upload them to the tool for future use. You can also see some examples of visualizations here and here.

Finally, this is the interactive version of my little experiment; it's the example I created in the tutorial: