For advanced data analysts: new STATA code for interactive 2D charts

Usually we focus on no-code, simple tools that anyone with a computer and some data savvy can use, but we’re making an exception for this STATA add on that we’ve heard quant buzz about from analysts we know.

For anyone out there who routinely uses STATA to generate charts and graphs, you’ve got a new option for automatically generating interactive (tool-tip enabled) 2D graphs from your data using Highcharts (free for non-commercial use), which a Javascript enabled chart generator. The output is an HTML file that can be dragged into any browser.  Not necessarily the most beautiful visualization you’ve ever seen, but the simple means of creating interactive charts is exciting!

Check out the full run down on GitHub.

Kaiser Family Foundation launches new interactive budget data explorer

Today the Kaiser Family Foundation launched a new US Global Health Budget Tracker platform that lets you explore and drill down through the data on USG budget allocations for global health programs, including trend data from across the appropriations process. You can disaggregate the data by fiscal year, agency, program area, and initiative. In addition, they’ve provided some “featured budget data” on high interest areas on the landing page.

KFF Interactive Funding Viz


Interactivity promotes exploration, and well-designed interactivity helps you engage users in a memorable experience. One of the greatest benefits of interactive features is that they create a more engaging, interesting, thought-provoking experience for your user. They also let you share your big-picture, high level themes and takeaways first, and then allow the user to explore the information you’re sharing and learn more about the details. 

Playing with the new platform from KFF, they’ve built a tool that seems comprehensive, visually interesting yet simple, and easy to customize so that you can drill down to the information you’re interested in.

What do you think of the new platform? 


The Noun Project makes finding icons easy

This Friday has been a blitz of sharing data visualization resources with colleagues, from Canva to Piktochart to Tiki-Toki.  In one of the meetings, a colleague shared a resource new to me: The Noun Project.

For anyone who has been desperately searching for an easy place to find simple, often free icons, the Noun Project will be your new best friend. Simply search for the topic of interest, and you’ll likely find a smattering of options.


Continue reading The Noun Project makes finding icons easy

Data+Design: the data viz guide you always wished you had

I’m (personally) excited to announce that the new eBook Data+Design officially launched yesterday! As one of the man writers for the project, I’m thrilled to see the beautiful, practical, engaging final product go live and hopefully be a great resource to global health and development professionals around the world.


“A simple introduction to preparing and visualizing information,” this is the resource that I’ve always wanted but never had at my fingertips to share when colleagues ask for a good overview on data viz. The book walks through the full process of developing great visualizations that transform numbers into meaningful information, from collecting your data to thinking about how to best communicate your data story to building your chart and making it sing. As you read it, you’ll find stories, examples, and helpful how to’s and how-not-to’s that anyone can learn from.

The book hits on data cleaning, infographics, chart design, and is beautifully designed thanks to the volunteer contributions from graphic and web designers who helped make the PDF and web-based versions look stunning. The masterminds behind the whole project were Trina Chiasson (Infoactive) and Dyanna Gregory, and the final product is the work of more than 50 different collaborators who offered time and support writing, editing, managing timelines, and doing the design for the book itself.

As an evolving resource, the team is actively seeking feedback and ideas for new chapters, so take a look at the resource and share your comments.

Using a simple matrix to visualize country correlations

Harvard Business Review recently posted a visualization from an article about Contextual Intelligence, focused on the cross-cultural relevance of learning about different business practices.  While not health or explicitly development related,  their approach to visualizing connections between countries was elegant in it’s simplicity and worth sharing.



The visualization uses what has become an increasingly common scrolling approach (also seen in Tableau Story Points, the Wall Street Journal, and other design tools and publications), which helps to visualize a story by guiding the reader’s eye as s/he clicks through a series of graphs or charts.

What we liked about this particular example is the smart use of color, simplifying the initial matrix into visualizations only highlighting particular country connections).


Take a look at the full visualization on the HBR blog—does this example make you think in new ways about how to use a matrix to illustrate a data story?

Celebrating John Venn’s Birthday

While a Venn diagram may not precisely be a “data visualization” in the strictest, and most quantitative sense of the word, it is a visual tool for sharing information—specifically, relationships between categories of things.

Today, the Google Doodle features a celebration of John Venn’s 180th birthday (post-mortem, of course), and the Guardian rounds up the how-to’s and how-not-to’s of building Venn diagrams.


Any day where the Google doodle features a father of effectively visualizing information is a good Monday in our book. Any favorite examples of great Venn diagrams or Venn diagram fails? Share links in the comments below!