3 Free Data Visualization Tools for Non-Programmers

The data visualization trend is growing; however, not everyone is a skilled programmer, or proficient in data visualization. That matters very little these days, as many programs have been developed to make data visualization more accessible and user-friendly to non-coders.

There are at least 3 strong and free data visualization tools one should consider using, but first, consider the following:

Data visualization is 80% data and 20% visualization.

In order to develop a great visualization, data needs to be gathered and processed first.

Visualizations turn out to be great if the information you show has value: a message that is interesting and clear to convey, with a story to tell. You can construct the most amazing visualization in the world, but you will have a very hard time in impressing people if the info is dull.

You need the following, in order to simplify your data visualization process:

  • Tools for data gathering: Quickly and easily scrape data from the millions of websites you have at your hands.
  • Tools for data manipulation: Spend less time tweaking manual data, values, anomalies, formats, aggregate content, samples, etc., and have smart software do this for you.
  • Tools for data visualization: If coding presents a challenge, you need a visualization design tool. Something to transform your information into imagery.

Outwit Hub (to scrape data)

Outwit Hub is a FireFox add-on. It extracts all the components of the webpage you are mining data from. From there, it categorizes data into element tables, including text, images, links, documents, etc. There are three main functions:

  • Exports HTML tables into .csv tables or similar formats.
  • Extracts information and content contained in closing and opening HTML tags.
  • Automates the application of a scraper to a string of links.

You will need a basic understanding of the plug-in to comprehend the way that it operates, though many of the functions are self-explanatory. You can visit the Outwit website, which features several useful tutorials, should you require a better understanding of the plug-in.

Note: there is a paid version and a free version. The free version is somewhat limited. If you would like to use more features, such as the ability to automate and specify data patterns, you will need to upgrade to the paid version.

There is an alternative tool you can use to scrape data called import.io.I have a created a step-by-step visual tutorial on how to use it.

KNIME (to process data)

KNIME’s data mining software is suggested for two main reasons:

  • The intuitive user interface is based on a workflow model.
  • Easy data pre-processing and transformation programs.

The program is arranged around a workflow paradigm where you select the nodes to process data. Afterward, you connect those nodes in order to let your data get the patterns you want. For example, there are nodes for data output and input, to load .csv files, or to obtain information from a database. Afterward there are nodes to aggregate, normalize data columns, filter and replace missing values. Next, if you’re somewhat experimental and adventurous, you have an abundance of mining nodes to implement material, such as classification, clustering, rules, etc.

Tableau Public (to visualize data)

Tableau is revolutionizing the way data is visualized in business environments and on the web. Tableau Public is a free version that allows you to publish visualizations on the Internet.

The key features of Tableau are:

  • Its easy-to-use interface, predicated on drag-and-drop operations.
  • The option to publish visualizations.

One can load a data table (from multiple formats) and begin experimenting with various forms of charts in a matter of seconds. Simply pick a data column and drag it to a visualization space. The software guesses what the greatest representation will be. Similarly, information columns may be mapped to colour, size, shape, etc., in order to personalize your data visualization.

Moments afterward, Tableau will explore tens of different design solutions and select the one which best suits the goal you specified. You have the option to publish your data visualization to the web in a dashboard format.

Conclusion

Download them all and start testing. As usual, each data visualization tool needs some degree of investment, but they all have a very mild learning curve. Ultimately, you can benefit from all of their data visualization features.

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