I’m testing out some of the visualization options from some free tools. I’ve used TableauPublic for some other projects and I just started looking at Google Fusion Tables. To see how they compared both in features and time to development I grabbed a dataset of building permits from data.seattle.gov. This dataset is 18 columns wide and just under 40,000 rows. I pulled the dataset into both TableauPublic and Google Fusion Tables and my results are below.
Working with TableauPublic was pretty easy. It didn’t immediately recognize the long/lat properly but I was able to fix that without much fuss. Creating the different colored dots, the Category, Application Date and Value filters was pretty much a drag and drop process. I’m always a little disappointed with the map UI with TableauPublic. Whereas the filters are great and easy to set up, navigating and zooming in to parts of the map is a cumbersome affair.
Google Fusion Tables
I haven’t done much with Google Fusion Tables so some of the difficulty had to do with learning curve as much as the UI. Importing the data is usually pretty simple, but for some reason Fusion Tables did not like the Excel file. I ended up having to convert it to a CSV before importing. Once the data was loaded, creating the viz was maybe two clicks. The Fusion Tables UI now has a visualization styling tool, but it cannot do the kind of categorized color dots that’s possible with TableauPublic. The great thing about Fusion Tables, however, is that it overlays on Google Maps so you get all the navigation functionality and layers found in G.Maps with the custom data points.
Overall, this one’s a toss-up. TableauPublic wins on the styling and interactivity while Fusion Tables gains the slight upper hand with the G.Maps UI. I’m also partial to Fusion Tables as a ‘cloud’ tool that is OS agnostic. My world is split between Windows (and some Linux) at work and Mac just about everywhere else. The desktop TableauPublic software is Windows only and as awesome as it is, I like to be able to work across platforms.