OK sports are great for the fact that they are a statisticians dream, so many numbers, so many angles, who could blame them. I just came across this impressive set of graphs in the Washington Post that depict the NBA finals this year, where the Miami Heat are struggling against the Mavericks despite the fact that they seem to have a dream roster. The large graphs depict the flow of the game through the 4 quarters showing the total points per team, time that the teams led during the game, and final score. Directly under each of the graphs you see 4 bar charts that represent each quarter and display the minutes that each team led, and finally under the bar charts is a pie chart that shows the total minutes that each team led during the game. This is an excellent example of an executive dashboard, and turning mundane statistics into information.
More on visual information can be found here at Edward Tufte’s (created the march on Russia ) website http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/. The speaker does a great job of conveying the importance of visual displays of data, and we already know that we are overloaded with raw data. But just how do we build those graphical widgets into our websites, apps, or presentations? Luckily there are several charting packages that are available such as http://code.google.com/apis/charttools/ that allow us to connect backend data sources to a clean display. There is however a down side to all of this, which is the fact that we still need to know what types of displays are better for certain types of data which is where the presentation above comes into play. Some of the lesser known charts that come to mind after watching the presentation include:
This is a great way to show several data points over time, such as the example below that shows the entire 2009 Atlanta Braves season, where red lines denote a loss and black lines denote a win.
This type of graph shows categories in a box where the size is indicative of the relative importance in relation to the category or group of data that is being viewed. For example, the chart below shows the most popular (measured by book sales) programming languages of 2007 .
We also did not get the chance to go over XML so I thought we could kill two birds with one stone with Fusion Charts Free ( yet another open source tool for your future web endeavors ) which is a charting package that uses Flash (.swf) files and XML to render the charts! The link for the free version is here: http://www.fusioncharts.com/FREE/gallery/