Free things are good, and free things to make your job easier are even better. Density Design, a lab of the design department of the Politecnico di Milano, has released RAW, an open sourced web tool for visualizing any data you need for a story.
It’s pretty simple, although it’s not exactly for rookies (hat tip to Gigaom’s Derrick Harris for having better luck with his football diagrams!). But after refreshing my memory with their video tutorial, I was able to play around with one of their sample data sets. It’s meant to be a ‘sketching tool,’ and the results have a low-budget look, but they’re polished enough to use on any blog.
Once you plug in your data set, RAW prompts you through the next steps and you can export the final version as a vector, JSON, or PNG file an post it away. The also focus on layouts that you can’t easily make or find elsewhere — in fact, in their FAQ, they direct you here in case you really, really need a pie chart. It’s open source, so if you’re able you can go wild. And they don’t store your data, so you don’t have to worry if you’re working with something sensitive.
All in all, it’s worth a peek and anyone who has been longing for a dendrogram of your local football league’s data — now is your time. Be patient though; it was tested in Google Chrome, and it works with some minor issues in Firefox and Safari. Let us, and them know what you think.
Do you have any other good data visualization web tools?