Data Visualization Software

The Best 9 Free and Open Source Data Visualization Software

The Best 9 Free and Open Source Data Visualization Software

Visual communication of information using some schematic approach is the result of Data Visualization.

The following section of this article will widely discuss about why data visualization is essential for the organizations today; how the term has evolved and what changes it has been going through since its inception and what would be its future.

Data can be anything from simple figures to collected information. But, the way it can be integrated, implemented to something or used to derive some significant result that too, in the visual formats of charts, bars and graphics is all about the visualization process.

The process is accomplished using a variety of commercial, semi-commercial, free-trial-based, totally free, open source, premium, freemium software solutions available in the market.

Now, it depends upon the requirements of the users what kind of software solution suits best to them. This article widely discusses the importance of data visualization in this era and how the term free and open source data visualization software programs can meet his business needs along with providing an economical solution.

Data Visualization

You cannot ignore the term Data Visualization while talking about Business Analytics, as it enables the executives having the better understanding of their reports that have been extracted from a massive amount of data and processed using visual contents.

Days are realizing now when the words have transformed into system-based presentations, graphs & visuals and the job of sharing and speaking to the world is undertaken by technology.

Data Analytics tell you within a quick span of minutes only if things are working for your business or not, whether it is progressing or downgrading or if, your Business Intelligence is improving.

You get some actionable insights for decision making using smart data visualization techniques that sometimes seem hard to derive from the tabular raw data.

Smart Data Visualization

Smart Data Visualization techniques help in streamlining the work process of your business and improve accuracy in planning & forecasting. The ultimate goal behind the entire game remains to ensure better, timely and more accurate business decisions.

Don’t forget; data is only as good as it is presented!

Businesses and organizations spend ample of their valuable time and resources to get a massive amount of timely, correct, accurate, and relevant data. However, it, itself is not sufficient for interpretation, if not presented correctly.

In some instances, measurable and incremental results are achievable. But, using the right visualization tools help in virtually eliminating the risks of errors and guarantee the proper context to consume data for the further evaluation process.

In other cases, reports revealed some breakthrough results.

For instance, fraud detection is an alarming issue as the fraudsters these days have become sophisticated and can anticipate easily, how organizations report their data. Therefore, their actions can be under the cover until it is too late.

Advanced data tools for visualization help the businesses to become capable of preventing frauds and revealing suspicious activities.          

Benefits of Data Visualization

Data Visualization has reached the ‘de facto state’ for modern Business Intelligence (BI). A list of benefits for the businesses using Data Visualization technique is presented below.

benefits of data visualization

Evolution of Data Visualization

Every day we see the end number of charts and graphs on our computer for many reasons. For professional reasons, they have become imperatives, specifically to deal with the reports and journals.

Have we ever thought from where the concept of ‘data’ actually evolved? How the term ‘visualization’ came into existence? How old these practices are, and from what changes, they have gone through?

evolution of data visualization

The concept of data started from last half of century where the unstructured data (raw figures and information) and flat files turned to spreadsheets to DBMS to Relational Databases and then came the first version of Analytical Data Structures like In-Memory and Columnar Databases and Multidimensional Cubes etc.

The advanced technology including high-quality data structures, faster and new-aged CPUs and GPUs, cheap RAM, multi-MegaPixel and multi-screen displays significantly contributed towards creating an interactive visualization of different data types. Here, Data Visualization can refer to as DV in short.

Check out the simple table that is given below to make you understand the evolution of Data Visualization.

Generations of Data Processing

Data Visualization Software

Using schematic systems for visualizing data is essential to democratize data and analytics and make data-driven insights available to the organizations. Hence, commercial or free and open source Data Visualization Software solutions came into existence that is typically handy and easier to operate in comparison to the traditional software used for statistical analysis or former versions of BI software.

Majority of businesses use data visualization software for tracking their initiatives. For example, the marketing team in an organization continually monitors the performance of their online marketing campaigns and track metrics like click-through rate, open rate and, conversion rate.

Data Visualization is an art of visualizing raw data skilfully, and it plays a vital role in data analysis. Whether it is in the graphical form or pictures, the data presented should add effectiveness and purpose to its existence and uses. Visuals certainly have their own merits. People understand well and communicate better when the visuals are exposed to them, instead of the plain content.

In short, online data visualization gives a sorted way of analysis to the sea of meaningless numbers.

Free and Open Source Data Visualization Software Solutions

In today’s business intelligence market, Fortune 500 companies realize the ‘open source’ sector as a highly sophisticated laboratory environment. These companies invest hugely in projects related to big data analytics.

Hence, it is clear that the word ‘open source’ here does not denotes for something ‘easy,’ ‘free’ or ‘DIY.’

Instead, data analytics and visualization platforms have evolved with the term ‘open source’ in response to satisfy the need for greater ease of use. Many companies have cornered the market of business intelligence by helping end users accessing analytics easily without demanding much technical knowledge, rather than the traditional BI solutions as formerly used by the IT departments.

As per the industry experts, the way of handling business intelligence was a bit different earlier. That time, you should have to know how to script in SQL to go with BI. Or else, you had to rely upon someone, i.e. the IT Engineer to run those SQL queries for you. The waiting time started then continues until you had a new set of questionnaire.

The discovery of graphical user interface (GUI) feature with the free and open source data visualization software eliminates this job for the user as it facilitates in translating the dragging and dropping activities into SQL queries on the back-end.

It reflects that the capability of such kind of software goes beyond the data visualization. In the territory of visual analytics, they involve something more than just churning out the compelling charts and graphs at the back end. They also interact with the data and query it utilizing a visual interface in the front end.

Data Visualization Tips

What is the need of Data Visualization for Businesses?

The human brain is adaptable to the frequent changes happening in the field of technology. It finds it easier to see charts and spreadsheets to view a large amount of complex data. Open source tools for data visualization provides a quick and easy way universally expressing concepts, and one can experiment with it involving different scenario and making a few adjustments.

Data Visualization is Helpful in:

How Data Visualization Software Works?

Before you use the new technology, have a look at some essential steps. You should not just have a solid understanding of your data, but also of your goals, needs, and viewers.

To prepare your organization for the data visualization technology, you should necessarily check with the following things:

  • Understand what your audience is and how it processes the visual information.
  • Understand about the data that you are going to visualize and its size as well.
  • Define the type of data visualization you are going to do and the kind of information that you want to transfer.

Once after answering about your initial questions like what type of audience will consume information, your next step should to prepare the amount of data with which you will work.

Latest Trends in the Field of Data Visualization in 2019

  • Data Beyond Visuals – Year 2019 is going to bring additional facilitations in terms of front-end visualizations. Beyond the visuals, data should be more informing and empower teams to take meaningful action.
  • Data Democratization – Data should be accessible to all job functions in an organization. It is important that everyone can use and interpret data for everyday decision-making.
  • Data Storytelling – People are going to rely more over the stories in 2019 than data points to deliver convenient, personalized and magical experiences.
  • Data Cleansing – Mis-labeled and missing pieces of information will be cleaned off with the new insights and discoveries in the year 2019.
  • Data Governance – Creation of a streamlined and unified approach to create new organizational processes is going to rule in 2019, in the name of Data Governance.

List of Free and Open Source Data Visualization Software Solutions


list of data visualization software solutions

Comparison between Free and Open Source Data Visualization Software Solutions:

From a massive list of free and open source software solutions for Data Visualization available online, here is a selection of the best 9 of them. Below given is a comparison chart to understand different aspects of the software solutions with their important sub-heads.

comparison of data visualization software programs

Let us see each of these free and open source Data Visualization software solutions in detail;

1. RAWGraphs:

RAWGraph is an open source web-based data visualization framework that is designed and developed in DensityDesign Research Lab Milan, Italy. The latest release version of the software is 1.2.0 and works under Apache 2 license.

RAWGraphs

Features:

  • RAWGraph’s deployment can possible on the Cloud, SaaS and web server that performs the functionality of dashboard creation and visual discovery.
  • It allows you to export visualizations as vector (SVG) or raster (PNG) images for embedding them into your web pages.
  • It offers both conventional and unconventional layouts in the software.
  • It allows you to understand and map your data dimensions visually.
  • It provides semi-finished vectors and data structures.

2. TimelineJS:

TimelineJS is an open-source JavaScript-based tool that is used for creating visually rich and interactive timelines on the websites. As a product of Northwestern University’s KnightLab in Evanston, Illinois - TimelineJS3, developed in 2012 and is available in more than 60 languages.

TimelineJS

(Source: TimelineJS)

Features:

  • TimelineJS is easy to use for the non-technical persons as well.
  • It is one of the best storytelling tools available in the industry.
  • TimelineJS can be used through a web browser or one can download the source code from GitHub for local use.
  • The critical feature of TimelineJS is that it uses Google Sheets for storing and organizing the data used in the timeline.

3. Dash by Plotly:

Founded in 2012 and headquartered in Montreal, Quebec – Dash by Plotly is a well-known technical computing company developing online data analytics and visualization tools.

Plotly

(Source: Plotly)

Features:

  • Dash by Plotly is based on the Python framework to build analytical web apps.
  • No JavaScript is required, and you can create the rich analytic web apps in just a few hundred lines of Python code.
  • It provides simple interface for UI controls.
  • Dash apps are customizable.
  • They are built and published on the web; hence, the absolute power of CSS made available to the users.

4. Dygraphs:

Dygraphs is an R interface-based JavaScript charting library the latest version 2.1.0 of which is released on December 8, 2017. It provides exceptional facilities to chart time-series data in R language etc.

Dygraphs

(Source: Dygraphs)

Features:

  • Dygraphs works on all the recent browsers. It also works well on tablets and mobile devices.
  • It provides strong support for error bars/confidence intervals.
  • Options and custom callbacks make the software extremely customizable to the users.
  • Mouseover, pan, and zoom are available on by default. So, it is an interactive and out-of-the-box software library.
  • The library can handle big datasets.

5. Gephi:

Gephi is a Java and OpenGL based open-source network analysis and visualization software package. The stable version 0.9.2 of this software was released on September 26, 2017. It performs on Windows, Linux, and MacOS and it works under GNU General Public License, Common Development, and Distribution License.

Gephi

(Source: Gephi)

Features:

  • The software is written in Java 1.7+ language and licensed as per CDDL + GNU GPL 3.
  • It works on all types of networks and comes with interactive interfaces.
  • It refers to software for Exploratory Data Analysis, which is a paradigm that appeared in the research field of Visual Analytics.
  • Gephi provides state-of-the-art and layout algorithms for ensuring efficiency and quality.
  • Gephi is capable of reading the majority of graphics file formats, and it also supports CSV and relational databases import.
  • Gephi has been selected for the Google Summer of Code in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

6. PathVisio:

Free and open source pathway analysis and drawing software – PathVisio is written in Java and works on any Java-based operating system. The stable version 3.3.0 release date of the software is January 28, 2018, and it holds the Apache 2.0 license.

Pathvisio

(Source: PathVisio)

Features:

  • PathVisio is a product developed by Maastricht University and Gladstone Institutes.
  • It is best to draw, edit and analyze biological pathways.
  • Plugins are additional features associated with it and are available for data integration, data visualization, import/export functionality, and pathway analysis.
  • PathVisio software is also used as part of the WikiPathways framework as an applet.
  • PathVisio users can simultaneously visualize proteomics, transcriptomics, fluxomics and metabolomics data on biological pathways.
  • Users can utilize PathVisio functionality directly from different programming languages.

7. Cytoscape:

An open source bioinformatics software platform – Cytoscape is written in Java and operates on all Java-based operating systems. It works under LGPL and its stable version 3.7.1 release date is January 3, 2019.

Cytoscape

(Source: Cytoscape)

Features:

  • Cytoscape allows you to use the powerful visual styles to customize network data displays.
  • It provides two-dimensions based layout networks.
  • Zoom in/out and pan to browse the network.
  • Plugins are available with this software for network and molecular profile analysis.
  • Cytoscape is famous as a helpful data visualization tool to analyze protein interactions and depression and metabolic profiles.

8. Kibana:

Elasticsearch’s product – Kibana is an open source data visualization plugin that is written in JavaScript and operates on multiple platforms. Kibana is Apache License based software the stable version 6.6.0 release date of which is January 29, 2019.

Kibana

(Source: Kibana)

Features:

  • Kibana supports line graphs, histograms, subrusts, pie charts, etc.
  • Users can get intuitive charts and reports using Kibana that can be used to navigate through a considerable amount of data interactively.
  • Kibana supports powerful geospatial capabilities for seamlessly layering in the geographical information over the data with visualizing results on the maps.
  • Users can run a variety of analytics in a few clicks only with using Kibana based pre-built aggregations and filters.
  • It is quite simple to set dashboards and reports and share them with others easily.

9. VTK:

Best known as ‘The Visualization Toolkit’ – VTK is an open source and freely available software system for image processing, visualization and 3D computer graphics. It comes in C, C++, and Python languages, run by Kitware Inc, licensed as per 3-clause BSD, and operate on multiple platforms. The stable version 8.1.1 release date of this software is May 14, 2018.

VTK

(Source: VTK)

Features:

  • VTK applications manipulate data with filters.
  • The core data model of VTK can represent almost any problem related to physical science.
  • VTK possesses a full set of 2D plot and chart types for tabular data.
  • The software provides excellent support for scalable distributed-memory parallel processing under MPI.

We are discussing one more  software in the data visualization software category as it is very popular and provides robust features for data visualization.-Tableau. 

Tableau

Tableau helps businesses and corporate entities to understand their data in a better way. This software is business analytics and intelligence software. It is a very fast and reliable solution to handle massive data. It has the capacity to add and manage Big data. Customers can see data in multiple forms and ways. It provides better insights into the data through its smart dashboard.

Tableau Data visualization Software

(Source-Tableau)

Features:

  • It changes the raw data into an easily understandable data that has some patterns in it for better understanding.
  • Tableau presents real time analysis of the data.
  • It makes data visually appealing.
  • It converts raw data into charts, tables and graphs.
  • Extracts data from multiple databases-excel sheets, PDFs, AWS etc.
  • Provides real-time changes in data if synchronized with databases
  • Its sharing tools allow sharing data with other members 
  • Has features to design charts, reports and customize dashboards

In case, you have used any of these software programs earlier, you can share your reviews at: https://www.goodfirms.co/software_reviews/add

Conclusion

 “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

This statement seems more accurate to the term data visualization. The initial attempt of taking information in the text format and present it in the pictorial form like a graph or chart covers the intention of engaging the visual sense of the reviewer in terms of presentation as well as content. Good Data Visualization with some economic solutions indeed turns into a work of art, and if it conveys the desired message correctly, it worth the result achieved. Using free and open source data visualization software for the purpose would surely be a qualitative and economical solution in this regard.

Software Solutions

Sarah Rose Miller
Sarah Rose Miller

She is an IT graduate, a research enthusiast, a  gadget lover and a tech writer. Sarah loves to explore every new innovation in the field of technology to help meeting quests of the readers regarding knowing about new gadget in the market, tech news and publications as well. She is a professional Research and Tech Writer at GoodFirms.co

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