Data visualisation using Google fusion tables

Fusion tables is yet another hidden gem that Google quietly graduated from Google Labs to their (seemingly perpetual) beta status. It’s a free tool for managing, visualising and publishing data with a particular strength for developing chart and map visualisations.

You can get started just by uploading a spreadsheet or other data collection – it supports file formats such as .xls, .csv and .kml.

Depending on the information available in your spreadsheet, you can view the data as a chart, map, timeline, intensity map, bar graph or storyline.  For example, motion, timeline and storyline visualisations need to have a valid date field available. If you’re spreadsheet includes an address field or other location data, this will be automatically geocoded for the map view.

There are various options to customise the info window and style and you can also then embed the map or chart in your website.

Check out the example gallery for more ideas about what Fusion Tables are capable of and there’s plenty of data available in the public tables to get started with. Try the ‘UK libraries under threat’ table to view the data behind the Map of Library Cuts used by Voices for the Library and Public Libraries News. To see an example of a timeline or storyline chart, there’s even a Twin Peaks timeline available.

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