Weave – Open Source Data Visualization

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Weave is an open source offering from the Open Indicators Consortium.  OIC is a collaboration with the Institute for Visualization and Perception Research (IVPR) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and counts membership from a range of local, regional, state, and federal government agencies and nonprofits.

Weave takes its name from the software description: Web-based Analysis and Visualization Environment and was conceived to “enable users, from novices to advanced researchers, to analyze, visualize and disseminate data and indicators at nested levels of geography from any location at any time“.  Weave’s aim is to offer an intuitive application to present data in multiple formats to the public.  The screen of a typical Weave application includes maps, tables, and graphs that are interrelated.  This allows users to easily see relationships among data sets.  When a user clicks on a data value in one of the visualization windows, the corresponding value on the map and in other tables and maps is highlighted.  Users can add additional data, access a wide selection of tools, and record their Weave sessions to reuse at another time or share with other users.

Built using Adobe Flex and ActionScript, the project is led by Computer Science Professor Georges Grinstein, who is the director of both the Institute for Visualization and Perception Research and the Center for Biomolecular and Medical Informatics.  About twenty-five students have participated in the development process for Weave over the last three years. Weave’s development also benefited from the participation of five IVPR students (ranging from doctoral students to upper level undergraduates) in Google’s Summer of Code program this past summer.  Weave is currently in Beta 1.0 and has received funding from members of the Open Indicators Consortium, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Barr Foundation.

Weave application showing Lowell foreclosures.
Weave application showing Lowell, MA foreclosures from 2005 to 2010.

Weave is in use by several local governments including Boston, San Antonio, Kansas City, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, and Grand Rapids, as well as the states of Massachusetts, Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Florida.  Rockford, Illionois is one of the latest cities to adopt Weave for its www.ourvitalsigns.com site which hosts several data visualizations showcasing information about the Rockford region.

There is a host of easily accessed demos that highlight the capabilities of Weave which includes the above mentioned Lowell foreclosures, Boston trees (using the eye pleasing Stamen watercolor tiles for OpenStreetMap as the base), UK election results, and US obesity rates.

Download instructions and documentation is available via Weave’s wiki.

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