Saturday, February 11, 2012

Weave Open Source Data Visualization Offers Power, Flexibility

Computerworld (02/08/12) Sharon Machlis

The open source Weave project is a platform designed to make it easier for government agencies, nonprofits, and corporate users to offer the public a way to analyze data. The platform enables users to simultaneously highlight items on multiple visualizations, including map, map legend, bar chart, and scatter plot. The benefits of Weave's interactivity go beyond the visual appeal of selecting an area on a chart and seeing matches highlighted on a map, notes Connecticut Data Collaborative project coordinator James Farnam. Weave aims to help organizations democratize data visualization tools, creating a way for anyone interested in a topic to explore and analyze information about it, instead of leaving the task solely to computer and data specialists, says Georges G. Grinstein, director of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell's Institute for Visualization and Perception Research, which created Weave. "Now [you're] engaging the public in a dialog with the data," Grinstein says. "That's why Weave is open source and free." Weave is so powerful that one of the challenges of implementing it is how to narrow down its offerings so that end users would not be overwhelmed with too many options, says the Metropolitan Area Planning Council's Holly St. Clair.