Experiments in Displaying Google Form/Survey Results in Many Eyes

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a workaround for Creating Your Own Results Charts for Surveys Created with Google Forms. With the release of Many Eyes Wikified, it’s now possible to power Many Eyes visualisations from online data (e.g. as described in Many Eyes Wiki Dashboard – Online Visualisation Tools That Feed From Online Data Sources).

So I was wondering – would it be possible to just pull data from the results spreadsheet for a Google form, and visualise it directly in Many Eyes without having to do any results processing on the spreadsheet side?

Firs step – find a form. I created a test one some time ago doodling ideas for a mobile survey form which contains some data, so that’s a start: Demo Mobile User Form.

Second step – get the results file as CSV: Mobile survey results:

Hmm – Many Eyes Wikified doesn’t see the columns…???

It’s is ok with a different subsets though… e.g. this one:

(Note that I can’t seem to specify “to end of column” in the Google spreadsheet CSV export? e.g. setting the range to A1:J doesn’t work:-( So i need to define an arbitrary final row…)

Trying out the visualisations on this data, I can sort of get the text cloud visualisation to work:

Unfortunately, in many of the chart types, there doesn’t seem to be the ability to plot a count of particular results(?).

For example, in the bubble chart, I can’t seem to plot bubble size as a count of the results in each results category? (Would I expect to be able to do that…? Hmmm… I think so…?!) Instead, I can only plot size according to data values in one of the numerical columns?

In many cases, in order to plot sensible visualisations that process and display the form results data, I need to be able to count the occurrence of different results classes within a results column. A count option is available in the Matrix chart, but not in many of the other visualisation types?

There’s also the issue that many of the results contain multiple items; so for a example, in answer to the question “What do you use your mobile phone for?” we might get the answers Voice calls, Text Messaging/SMS, Web search, Maps/directions, Camera (stills) (selected from a drop down list on the original form).

What would be really nice would be the ability to specify a delimiter/separator to split out the different results in a particular column, then let Many Eyes enumerate the different possible answer choices in that column, and count on each one. So for example, I’d like to select a bubble chart based on the column “What do you use your mobile phone for?” and have Many Eyes identify the different segments, (Voice Calls, Web Search etc), count the occurrence of each of those and plot each segment as a bubble, with size proportional to the counted occurrence of the segment in the results.

In the meantime, I suppose it’s always possible to process the results in the spreadsheet as demonstrated in Creating Your Own Results Charts for Surveys Created with Google Forms and then just export the CSV of the particular question results tables to Many Eyes Wikified? Or alternatively, design questions that work nicely when the raw results are passed to Many Eyes Wikified?


  1. JR

    If you do some preprocessing on the resulting spreadsheet – you might want to try the “split()” function of Google spreadsheets to deal with the “multiple responses” (checkbox) questions – which would work nicely assuming you have no commas in any of the individual answers. There’s plenty of other pre-processing tricks too.
    I’m finding your blog on more and more occasions.. very nice posts.

  2. Tony Hirst

    @JR “There’s plenty of other pre-processing tricks too.

    Would you like to elaborate on a few? I’m not much of spreadsheets user…