REVIEW: "Visualizing Data", Ben Fry
- BKVSLZDT.RVW 20080418
"Visualizing Data", Ben Fry, 2008, 0-596-51455-7, U$39.99/C$39.99
%A Ben Fry benfry.com/writing
%C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
%G 0-596-51455-7 978-0-596-51455-6
%I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
%O U$39.99/C$39.99 800-998-9938 fax: 707-829-0104 nuts@...
%O Audience a- Tech 2 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 366 p.
%T "Visualizing Data"
The preface states that the book is intended both for graphics
designers without a computer science background and for software
developers who do not have a graphics background. The examples use
Processing, an open source Java API (Application Programming
Interface) developed by the author.
Chapter one is a basic introduction to data visualization, noting the
importance of asking the right questions. There is also a mention of
a seven-stage iterative design model for creating visualizations.
Processing is introduced in chapter two, and will feel familiar to
those acquainted with Java programming. There are also suggestions on
how to approach and use the language, based on the design model given
previously. In chapter three an example is provided of building a
display using "random" data. There are a few points on display
element choices, but most of the content deals with specific API
calls. Much the same is done in chapter four, with more APIs, a few
options for display element choice but even less analysis of the
alternatives, and a rather poor illustration since a three dimensional
problem is forced into a two dimensional chart. Chapter five starts
with twenty-two pages of acquisition and parsing, twenty-six pages of
the display including ten pages of source code, with figures that are
even less clear. Code for the example used in chapter one is provided
in chapter six. Chapter seven demonstrates the creation of a treemap
where the rectangles show relative sizes of values. Network graphs,
showing relations and interactions between items, are shown in chapter
Some tools for acquiring data are listed in chapter nine. This
includes MySQL, which is rather odd, since chapter ten reviews the
parsing of data. The Processing language, and integration with Java,
is covered in chapter eleven.
Graphics designers comfortable with Java programming would find this
work very useful. Software developers probably wouldn't get a lot out
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2008 BKVSLZDT.RVW 20080418
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