8 cool tools for data analysis, visualization and presentation

By Sharon Machlis, Computerworld |  Business Intelligence

The Unix-like interface will be familiar to anyone who has worked on a *nix system, and makes it easy to save multiple frequently used commands in a batch file.

Drawbacks: Working on a command line means learning new text commands (not to mention the likely risk of typing errors), which might not be worthwhile unless you work with CSV files fairly often. Also, be advised that this tool suite is written in Python, so Windows users will need that installed on their system as well.

Skill level: Expert

Runs on: Any Windows, Mac or Linux system with Python installed.

Learn more: The documentation includes an easy-to-follow tutorial. There's also a brief introductory slide presentation that was given at the NICAR conference last month.

Related tools: Google Refine is a desktop application that can do some rudimentary file analysis as well as its core task of data cleaning; and The R Project for Statistical Computing can do more powerful statistical analysis on CSV and other files.

DataTables

What it does: This popular jQuery plug-in (which was designed and created by Allan Jardine) creates sortable, searchable HTML tables from a variety of data sources -- say, an existing, static HTML table, a JavaScript array, JSON or server-side SQL.

What's cool: In addition to sortable tables, results can be searched in real time (results are narrowed further with each search-entry keystroke).

Drawbacks: Search capability is fairly basic and cannot be narrowed by column or by using wildcard or Boolean searches.

Skill level: Expert

Runs on: JavaScript-enabled Web browsers

Learn more: Numerous examples on the DataTables site show many ways to use this plug-in.

FreeDive

What it does: This alpha project from the Knight Digital Media Center at UC Berkeley turns a Google Docs spreadsheet into an interactive, sortable database that can be posted on the Web.

What's cool: In addition to text searching, you can include numerical range-based sliders. Usage is free. End users can easily create their own databases from spreadsheets without writing code.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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