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Mark Madsen

Open source is becoming a required option for consideration in many enterprise software evaluations, and business intelligence (BI) isn't exempt. This blog is the interactive part of my Open Source expert channel for the Business Intelligence Network where you can suggest and discuss news and events. The focus is on open source as it relates to analytics, business intelligence, data integration and data warehousing. If you would like to suggest an article or link, send an e-mail to me at open_source_links@ThirdNature.net.

About the author >

Mark, President of Third Nature, is a former CTO and CIO with experience working in both IT and vendors, including a stint at a company used as a Harvard Business School case study. Over the past decade, Mark has received awards for his work in data warehousing, business intelligence and data integration from the American Productivity & Quality Center, the Smithsonian Institute and TDWI. He is co-author of Clickstream Data Warehousing and lectures and writes about data integration, business intelligence and emerging technology.


A year and a half ago I was playing around with data visualization toolkits. What I found is that they fell into two buckets: those good for making graphs, and those good for art projects. The ones being used by design and art students were much more interesting and seem to have more possibilities for those of us delivering data visualization rather than fixed graphs.

The problem is that the toolkits / libraries are generally not as usable in a commercial setting. The most interesting one I found is Processing and I'm happy to see that there are now books out on it. I had trouble digging through the original documentation and doing anything interesting. The thing I often find is that the most interesting work is being done well outside the BI market. Here's a nice example of a Processing visualization from Robert Hodgin

Magnetic Ink, Process video from flight404 on Vimeo.

Here are a few other open source visualization tools and libraries I found when I was casting about last year:
Prefuse now ported to ActionScript as Flare - something I can actually use! Beats the pants off of what I was doing in Circos which, now that I've looked again has better tutorials
OpenDX
GGobi
GraphViz
ESOM
GNUplot
VTK
SCIGraphica

There are tons of others, but I don't have everything in one place for easy reference. That's what Google is for.


Posted August 5, 2008 1:20 AM
Permalink | 2 Comments |

2 Comments

Mark -- I'm writing an article on GGobi. In addition to providing live and interactive visualization, GGobi has a kin R package Rggobi, which provides GGobi access to R data and the vast R library of graphics, models, and machine learning algorithms. This is a critical differentiator for data analysis. R, of course, is the most prevalent statistical and data management package in the world today.

We recently released an open-source visualization framework that attempts to fill that void between basic charts and artistic visualizations. JuiceKit (http://www.juicekit.org) is "a Software Development Kit (SDK) for building Information Experience applications. The SDK can be used by web designers and developers to build graphically rich and interactive information displays."

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