Free visualization tools

October 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

This wiki provides a list of open source programs for graphics and data visualization. Karl Gude, a professor at Michigan State University and former Newsweek graphics chief, compiled the list and spoke about open-source software at the recent Society of News Design convention.


White House floor plan

December 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

Floor plans often make great infographic fodder. For instance, the Washington Post’s interactive White House corridors of power diagram provides a solid inside look at the Obama administration. (

Often a flat blueprint works fine, but sometimes you might want to take a more stylized approach. Using Illustrator’s 3D tools, you can make a quick-and-dirty extrusion of the blueprint’s walls (like in the White House example) without having to move into a raster 3D program.

Here is a decent tutorial on the Vector Tuts site that shows you how to make a simple 3D floor plan.

Some of the numbers the author uses for rotation angles don’t seem to match what he’s showing, but he presents the basic concepts clearly.

RSS readers

June 21, 2009 § Leave a comment

If you like this blog, or any other blog, you should subscribe to it with an RSS reader. Many people give me a blank look when I mention RSS, even if they claim to be savvy with blogs.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this post is for you.


An RSS reader allows you to subscribe to multiple blogs and have the posts pumped into a central place like a news feed. I use the Google Reader partly because I already have a Gmail account but also because it plays well with another application I have on my iPod Touch, called Pro RSS. Pro RSS is the paid version ($1.99) of an application you buy at the iTunes store. You can use it to synch the feeds on your iPhone (or iPod Touch) with the Google Reader or several other popular RSS readers. Highly recommended.


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