More on icharts.net

The icharts service went live to the public earlier this week, so there’s now an opportunity to investigate the site’s capabilities, and to respond to Achim’s comment on my previous post.

I examined a few of the charts currently on the site. My impressions are not good:

  • You can’t view the data behind a public chart without registering, logging in, and editing the chart in your account. There is no data download option.
  • Visualization quality is poor: Axis labels and legend labels can be almost illegible, and the default color selections are poor.
  • The slider widget which appears on all bar and line charts adds no value, does not support panning, and is inappropriately applied to categorical data.
  • The image thumbnails generated for browse and search results are ugly and serve no useful purpose.

Responding to Achim’s comment: I don’t see source attribution or links on any of the public charts. As I mentioned above, you can’t get easily to the data. On collaboration, there may be some capability here, I just can’t find it.

In summary: iCharts is a poor imitation of Swivel, using Flash instead of images. Swivel’s visualization quality is far from perfect, but it’s substantially superior to iCharts.

Many Eyes remains the undisputed champion of high-quality public data visualization on the web (though I believe they’ve made an unwise choice of Java applets for rendering). For some relevant commentary, see Stephen Few’s past blog postings on Swivel and Many Eyes.


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