Many Eyes Wiki Dashboard – Online Visualisation Tools That Feed From Online Data Sources

Aren’t blog comments wonderful things? Today, I learned from a comment by Nicola on Visualising Financial Data In a Google Spreadsheet Motion Chart that Many Eyes can now be used to visualise live data via Many Eyes Wikified.

Wikified has apparently been in beta for a month or two (somehow I missed it…) but it was launched as a public service earlier this week: Many Eyes Wikified now open to the public:

Many Eyes Wikified is a “remix” of Many Eyes, using a wiki markup syntax to enable you to easily edit datasets and lay out visualizations side-by-side.

It also functions just like a normal wiki: you can collaboratively edit pages, add explanations or documentation to your visuals, see a page’s edit history, and revert changes.

Unlike a normal wiki, you can embed content from your blog or other data source within Wikified and visualize it. You can also embed the content you make in Wikified elsewhere, just like you can in Many Eyes.

I have to admit to hitting a few, err, issues with Many Eyes wikified whilst playing with it on an old Mac, but the promise is just, like, awesome, dude…

So what’s in store?

First up, you can add data to a page by simply copying and pasting a CSV table into it. So far, so Many Eyes – except that the page where you paste your content is actually a wiki page – so you can have all sorts of explanatory text in the page as well.

What’s really useful, though – and something I’ve been wanting for some time – is the ability to pull live data into the wiki page from another online source.

So far I’ve only tried pulling in CSV data from a Google spreadsheet, but as that seems to work okay, I assume pulling in CSV data from a Yahoo! pipe, or DabbleDB database should work too.

(I’m not sure if Many Eyes Wikified will pull in other data types too, such as TSV? Please add a comment to this post if you find out…)

Once you have a data page defined, you can call on that data from a visualisation within another page. This is where I hit a wobbly… I could create a page, and get a stub for the visualisation okay:

And I got the link that let me fire up the visualisation editor:

And I even got the viz editor:

You’ll notice that the data table has been pulled in, with the ability to set the data type for each column, and a toolbar is provided that lets you select the desired Many Eyes style visualisation type – wtih no typing and no programming required…:-)

(However, when I tried to change the visualisation type on my 10.4 OS/X Mac, I just got thrown back to the wikified home page…:-(

Anyway – the promise is there, and from examples like Nicola’s dashboard, it seems as if other people have been coping fine with the visualisation editor…

…which brings me neatly to the idea of the Wikified dashboards

Many Eyes Wikified allows you to define “dashboards”, which are essentially URI path namespaces within which you can collect a series of separate pages. I’m not sure if you can assert ownership or edit privileges over dashboards, though? At the moment, it looks as if all pages are editable by anyone, in true public/open wiki style…

So to sum up, Many Eyes visualization tools are now available as endpoints for wholly online data mashups. May the fun begin…

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

4 thoughts on “Many Eyes Wiki Dashboard – Online Visualisation Tools That Feed From Online Data Sources”

  1. Hi, thanks for checking out Wikified!

    Yep, looks like you found a bug in the visualization editing page. One of the Javascript toolkits we use really doesn’t like non-ASCII characters, such as the ‘£’ in the column header for your test data. A temporary workaround is to replace the ‘£’ in your data with an ASCII symbol, like ‘GBP’. We’re working on a fix.

    As for data formats: currently Wikified supports CSV and TSV. You can also put in a URL to any web page; Wikified will strip out all the HTML tags and CSS and treat it as a text dataset (e.g. for the tag cloud, word tree or Wordle).

  2. Hi Tony, actually I ran into various issues, most of them related to my ability to get data into spreadsheets or another format and then try and work out the difference between how to display the data (where I was trying to use a visualization to display something that it wasn’t capable of displaying in that type of visualization – my own lack of infovis ability!) Everything on here:

    I have found that I can create most of the visualizations using Chrome, but very occasionally I get the error message and use IE and it works ok. I found it interesting to compare it to displaying the data in regular Many Eyes too. We’re hopefully testing out the wikified and the regular one in a financial mgmt lecture today (the only reason we’re going to regular one today is that the lecturer hasn’t had time to learn the wiki code – he only needs one line but he is scared that if he can’t do it today in front of students then …however we are going to use it for a 3 day case study if we don’t make it into wikified version today.

    I can only imagine what amazing things you can create with your experience!!

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