Ben Fry’s Visualizing Data book review

I brought this book back in the beginning of 2008, unfortunately I didn’t get the opportunity to read it until the autumn (or fall) of 2008. The book is not aimed at full on computer scientists, in fact it is aim at people “who have a data set, a curiosity to explore it, and an idea of what they want to communicate about it”.

The book starts out nice and easy with the first chapter introducing you to the concepts of acquire, parse, filter, mine, represent, refine, and interact and the “interactions between the seven stages”. These stages are then followed in each chapter to bring home concept.

By the end of Chapter 3 you have downloaded the IDE, and have completed your first interactive visualisation, it is very rewarding.

One of my favourites is Chapter 5’s Baseball results visualisation over time. Not because I like Baseball (I don’t), but because I like the movement between each time period – so smooth and professional (read it and you will see!).

The only area where I have suffered problems is with the deployment of my visualisations, this was partly down to my lack of appreciation of signing apps – which isn’t really covered in the book. However the community @ Processing.org forums helped me and I managed to get over that hurdle.

All in all this is a really good book, all of the examples are excellent. I do, occasionally, use the book as a reference source for code example. I especially like the treemap chapter, 7, (as you can tell from the number of treemaps I have done!). It is written in a very relaxed way, with structure around when you are working on the data, the visualisation etc. I cannot recommend the book enough, I am yet to come across a book which comes close… I am looking though 🙂

Further to this, if you check out Ben’s blog you open yourself up to a new world of data visualisation!!!

Oh, and yes I do have the T-Shirt!!!! 🙂

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