Data visualization is a growing trend which is empowering big as well as small businesses and their employees. It makes large and complex sets of data literally visible, through the use of graphics, pictures, maps and tables, in a way in which it can be acquired, consulted and apprehended by anyone at any level, without the need for specific expertise or the help of professional analysts.
In fact, data visualization has been proven so effective and become so popular that it has transcended the world of business. Its most recognizable representation, the infographic, is a prime example of that, as it’s been adopted by academics, featured in study materials and become a favoured resource for the traditional and digital media.
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that business-savvy developers and tech companies are taking advantage of this trend and creating free data visualization tools, so that other businesses and individuals can access their data in a way that they can actually process and understand, both from their desktops and at home.
Free Data Visualization tools
As with most areas, the pioneers of data visualization used to charge big money for their services or tools, only facilitating data visualization to a certain point, as small companies which couldn’t afford to have analysts on hand weren’t any more likely to be able to afford expensive tools like these.
However, with the increasing popularity of data visualization and infographics, free data visualization tools such as Tableau Public and Qlik Sense Desktop have been introduced into the market and largely exceeded the popularity of traditional programs like the original Tableau.
Qlik VS Tableau
It is important to mention that Tableau Public and Qlik Sense are quite similar, but not quite the same. You may have heard of the former, as it rose to fame as one of the pioneers of data visualization, who placed data analysis in the hands of the everyday person who doesn’t have analytics knowledge.
In spite of their fame and their claims for being the Google of data visualization’, however, Tableau does have its shortcomings, the most visible being the hefty price tag attached to the full version of the software.
To atone for that particular flaw, Tableau has created Tableau Public, a free version of their famed software, which aims at regaining the preference of those who long for costless data visualization tools, by producing dynamic data representations which can be shared by users on and offline.
The fact is, however, that Qlik does take the concept further with Qlik Sense, by offering essentially the full version of their software for free, with no limitations, which is more than capable of fulfilling any everyday user’s needs by sourcing data from multiple sources, allowing users to explore data freely, and exporting the final product in several formats, including HTML, so that it can be shared online.
If you don’t want to use either of those, or prefer a web-based tool, though, there are several options as well:
In fact, Google itself offers two great tools for data visualization – Google spreadsheets (one of the features of Google Docs) and Fusion Charts, which can easily create interactive maps and merge them with charts to make infographics.
Alternatively, you can also opt for something like Many Eyes, an experimental online app created by IBM, which allows you visualize your own data, as well as data sets provided by the framework, in a number of ways and formats.
It is, of course, worth noting that free data visualization websites like these do have their shortcomings, but they also prove that you don’t need fancy tools to analyze data.