Today, Quartz open-sourced the code for their in-house application Chartbuilder on Github, so we can all make charts worthy of our reporting, and without driving the graphics editor insane. There’s a minor learning curve, but you don’t have to be a graphics whiz to make them.
David Yanofsky, a reporter for Quartz and the creator of the application, writes on Nieman Journalism Lab that everyone benefits: reporters become more independant in working with their own data and it makes life easier for our colleagues over at the graphics desk, who can get bogged down with requests for data visualizations.
The charts are easily customizable to match any newsroom’s standards, they provide ‘immediate visual feedback’ so you don’t have to update and preview to make sure you didn’t mess anything up, and you can work on them offline if you download the source code. Most importantly, it’s simple. Yanofsky writes:
A reporter’s understanding of an image file is exponentially higher than a reporter’s understanding of an iframe embed code snippet. Content management systems’ understanding of an image file is exponentially higher than a CMS’s understanding of an iframe embed.
You can get started right now, and if you are one of those reporters who starts zoning as soon as you hear “source code,” bring it to a developer in the newsroom. They’ll probably thank you.