The Best Free Data Visualization Tools for Developers

Dynamic web content is one of the best ways to scale your link building and content strategy. Though data visualization as a discipline has typically been used to aid executive stakeholder presentations, it has increasingly become one of the best content marketing strategies to build authority and help businesses attain online thought leadership in their target industry.

Visualizing data in interesting ways allows webmasters and blog editors to analyze and write unique data stories that relate to their specific audience or industry. In most cases, those article author’s will reference your content and provide a link. The list below includes the best data viz tools for developers currently available and will be updated on a regular basis to add new tools that become available.

Open Source Data Visualization Tools 

So what are the best tools to use? Check out the list below of the best free data visualization tools for developers.

D3.js

D3.js is a data-driven documents library (thus the three Ds in D3.js) written in JavaScript for creating Data Visualizations that can be rendered in a modern web browser.

If you want to see a bunch of working D3 examples, check out the creator of D3.js Mike Bostock. You can also benefit from the official website D3.js – Data-Driven Documents and go through some code to start getting a sense of the philosophy behind this library. The majority of learning D3 comes down to understanding one tricky concept: the idea of binding data to selections. To learn more about binding dat with D3, check out this visual explanation of Selections in D3.js

Google Charts

google-charts-example

Google Charts is another free tool that’s easier to learn than D3, but still packs an interactive punch. The API can read from Excel, Google Spreadsheets, SQL databases, CSV files & auto update. It also works on all modern browsers & includes maps.

Google Charts is not as customizable as some other packages, so if you’re a skilled JavaScript programmer you might prefer those. It also doesn’t give you sophisticated statistical processing and requires a network connection.

Chart.js

charts.js-example

Chart.js is a minimalistic charting library that’s fairly easy to pick up but not as flexible as some other libraries. If you know even a little bit of JavaScript you could probably have a a simple chart in minutes but you are exchanging functionality for ease of use. Before you can create a chart, you’ll need to include the library in your frontend code. Once done, you can use the API from the library to add charts and assign values. More technical details are available here.

Plotly.js

plotly-example

Plotly.js is a JavaScript library can also be used for realtime charting with javascript. It’s built in part with d3.js and has a nice interface for scientific charts like histograms, box plots, heat maps, 2d-histograms, multiple axes, and subplots. Date and log axes are also supported. It’s main use right now has been for scientific and financial dashboards; one of which is an energy monitoring start-up that is plotting sensor data in real-time.

Dygraphs

Dygraphs is a flexible, JavaScript-based charting library. The main attraction of Dygraphs is that it can handle huge data sets and produce output that is interactive for the end-users. It requires some level of web programming background to get started with a chart, but it is easier to use than the previous libraries mentioned in this article. Take a look at the example gallery to learn more about its capabilities.

Leaflet

Leaflet is a lightweight, mobile friendly JavaScript library to help you create interactive maps. Leaflet is designed with simplicity, performance, and usability in mind. It works across all major desktop and mobile platforms out of the box, taking advantage of HTML5 and CSS3 on modern browsers while still being accessible on older ones. It can be extended with a huge number of plugins, has a beautiful, easy to use, and well-documented API and a simple, readable source code that is a joy to contribute to.

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