Upcoming meet – October 28th Tableau Showcase, and Tableau practicals

28th October 1-2pm. Tableau showcase

Please sign up using the Eventbrite here

Room 1.20, 35 Berkeley Square, University of Bristol, BS8 1JA

The session will be given by speakers from Tableau.

This will be an hour long session including a 10 minute demo of Tableau’s capabilities with an example mobile phone dataset, a discussion of how data visualisation is used and how Tableau might help you, exploration of the Tableau visuals gallery and information about further training.

Data is everywhere. But it can be hard to make sense of it all. Tableau helps people transform data into actionable insights that make an impact. Easily connect to data stored anywhere, in any format. Quickly perform ad hoc analyses that reveal hidden opportunities. Drag and drop to create interactive dashboards with advanced visual analytics. Then share across your organization and empower teammates to explore their perspective on data. From global enterprises to early-stage start-ups and small businesses, people everywhere use Tableau’s analytics platform to see and understand their data.

Note that University of Bristol employees can access Tableau for free via Tableau’s academic programme. Students can download licenses here. Instructors/non-commercial academic researchers can use the link here. Instructors can download course software here. There is some further information on eligibility here. Tableau Public is free to anyone https://public.tableau.com/s/ and some people might qualify for a licence from Tableau Foundation : https://www.tableau.com/foundation/license-donations

If you are interested in a more structured course, Tableau will be running a beginners and intermediate course that day as well, details can be found on the JGI website.

Introduction to d3.js by Gizat Makhanov – 9th July 2019

We really enjoyed hearing about the potentials of d3.js and seeing some of the visuals it can create. If you would like the slides Gizat has been kind enough to share them with the group, please email the organisers for a copy.

Gizat was also able to give us an insight into a project he is working on, making a visualisation of the London Marathon data (https://results.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/2019/?pid=start), using these for inspiration https://interaktiv.morgenpost.de/berlin-marathon-2016/ & https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/30/sports/new-york-marathon-in-six-charts.html. Hopefully he will be back to share the finished visual with the group!


Other useful links:

d3 galleries:

  • https://github.com/d3/d3/wiki/gallery
  • https://www.d3-graph-gallery.com/

Data Visualisation Techniques in R – April 30th

Osama Mahmoud gave us a talk on the basics of data visualisation in R. He covered base graphics and ggplot2 in a really simple and helpful way, particularly for those who are less familiar with R. His slides are here: Data visualisation techniques using R


We were particularly impressed with the BristolVis R package he has designed, which provides interactive practicals to introduce data visualisation in R and an interactive webtool.


Osama Mahmoud can be contacted by email and was happy to help any of the group with data visualisation inR, for contact details see his website http://osmahmoud.com/.

Upcoming Meetings April – July 2019

“Data visualisation techniques using R” by Osama Mahmoud (UoB)

April 30th at 12:30 – 13:30 Room 4.10, Graduate School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square

To get an idea of numbers please can you sign up via Eventbrite


CANCELLED – will be rescheduled later in 2019 “A Walk through the Python Visualization Forest” by Margriet Groenendijk

May 22nd at 13:30 – 14:30 Post Graduate Hub training room 1, Senate House (note different time and location!!!)

Margriet is a Data Scientist and Developer Advocate from IBM Watson

There are many different Python libraries available for data visualization. These all have different philosophies, syntax and ways to create charts. In this session we will go for a walk in the forest to explore them all and learn about their differences and similarities. We will find out what plots and maps work best for different types of data. The walk will be documented in a Jupyter notebook so later you can go back into the forest on your own.

This will be promoted as part of JGI Data-Week – please register via Eventbrite 


Design Principles of Data Visualisation by Oliver Davis (Data Vis Group organiser) + flash presentations

June 21st at 12:30 – 13:30 Room 4.10, School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square 


Introduction to D3.js by Gizat Makhanov (UoB)

July 9th at 12:30 – 13:30 Room 4.10, School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square

Meeting 25th February 2019

Visual Vocabulary Discussion Session

This was a presentation and discussion session, covering visual vocabulary (deciding what graphics to use with your data), applications to big data, graphics tools and infographics, with lots of examples. Harriet and Polly ran the session with lots of interaction from the audience (Thank you!). We have attached the slides which were presented here: VisualVocab_Feb25th-20ktc47

There was additional discussion on actually designing your visualisation. Andy Kirk’s webinar – Mastering the Art of Data Visualisation Design – was recommended, as were the books, courses and resources from Edward Tufte. We will look into getting a seminar on the subject if we can find a suitable speaker – recommendations please!

We also discussed infographics and I was particularly interested to hear that some journals do encourage this sort of graphic – indeed, the BMJ actually has a member of staff to design infographics and data visualisations, Will Stahl-Timmons, and we found a good example of his work in a blog post.

The following sites were also recommended – leaning towards the data journalism side with some neat examples:

https://pudding.cool/  “explains ideas debated in culture with visual essays. By wielding original datasets, primary research, and interactivity, we try to thoroughly explore complex topics.”

http://thedataface.com/ “We help brands turn data into interactive stories and analytics tools”


Thanks to all who came to the session and I hope that it was of interest to you. As always, we would love your feedback and please do let us know if you have ideas for sessions you would like to see run (dvg-organisers@sympa.bristol.ac.uk). We really want these sessions to be useful for the group and can only do that with your input too!

Upcoming Meetings Feb – April 2019

Our next meeting will be February 25th at 12:30 – 13:30 in Room 4.10, 35 Berkeley Square (Graduate School of Education) and will be on Visual Vocabulary.

For our March meeting we are promoting the JGI talk on Wednesday 20th March 13:00-14:00 – “Automating Data Visualisation” by Nick Holliman, Professor of Visualization, Newcastle University & Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute. The event is free but you must register for a ticket on Eventbrite.

On April 30th at 12:30 – 13:30 in Room 4.10, 35 Berkeley Square (Graduate School of Education) we will have a talk from James Staley on data visualisation techniques using R.

Meeting 12th December 2018

12th December – “The Clifton Suspension Bridge Dashboard, Data Visualisation from the Sublime to the Ridiculous”

This meeting featured a talk from Sam Gunner: ‘The Clifton Suspension Bridge Dashboard, Data Visualisation from the Sublime to the Ridiculous’.

Talk overview

“During the Clifton Suspension Bridge Dashboard Project, we employed a wide spectrum of different data visualisation techniques.  At one end was the time series database visualisation software Grafana, an open source web interface that provides a very intuitive way of visualising and disseminating time series data.  At the more imaginative end, the JGI commissioned two artists to convert the data into music, and the double robotic harp in the shape of the Clifton Suspension Bridge that they created (although possibly stretching the definition of data visualisation) has proved to be an incredibly successful mechanism for publicising the project and educating the general public, in this case in the field of Infrastructure Health Monitoring.

In my talk I’ll discuss the technical aspects of both these types of data visualisation, and hope to demonstrate their power, especially when used together.” Sam Gunner

Some more information about the Clifton Suspension Bridge Harp can be found in the report on the JGI website.

Meeting 13th September 2018

13th September 2018

In this session we watched a TEDtalk and had some flash presentations.
For those who weren’t able to make it, here’s the link to the TED talk by Beau Lotto that we discussed: https://www.ted.com/talks/beau_lotto_optical_illusions_show_how_we_see Thanks for the really interesting discussion of how visual perception and optical illusions interact with data vis!
Related to this, we highlighted artist Luke Jerram’s current exhibition “The Impossible Garden” in the University Botanic Garden, a set of experimental sculptures exploring visual phenomena, open until 25th November (http://www.bristol.ac.uk/vision-institute/events/impossible-garden/). Luke will also be delivering this year’s Richard Gregory Memorial Lecture at 6pm on Tuesday 13th November, titled “Exploring the Edges of Perception”. Details here: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/vision-institute/events/richard-gregory-memorial-lecture/lecture-details/
Thanks too to our presenters. This year we’re introducing a new show-and-tell format, with three-minute lightning presentations. These can be about anything you like, such as a visualisation you’ve seen and liked, a tool you’ve used, a project you’ve been working on or a problem you’d like help with. The idea is that these are low pressure and should require minimal preparation. We think it worked really well, so do let us know if there’s something you’d like to share at a future meeting. Having said that, there’s no obligation to present, so if you’d like to just come along and watch, that’s fine too.
We also discussed an upcoming opportunity to influence the data visualisation infrastructure available at the University’s new Temple Quarter site. Do let us know if you’ve seen an exciting data visualisation set-up elsewhere that you’d like to bring to Bristol.
Finally, Polly announced a Tableau workshop she’s arranged for 7 November 2018 10.00-12.00 in the Seminar Room, Beacon House. This is one of our most requested training topics, so sign up here if you’d like to learn more: https://www.tableau.com/community/events/tableau-workshop-bristol

Atmospheric quality data visualisation labs – May and June 2018

Our second data lab for 2018 used Atmospheric quality data provided by Guy Barkley from Atmotech.

24th May 2018 – Atmospheric quality data visualisation lab (1)

Guy Barkley from Atmotech introduced us to the work they do and the time-series data he kindly provided for the group on atmospheric quality.

Atmotech is an air quality services business. They deploy IoT sensor modules around sites and present the data to clients – ‘building a picture of air quality’ – in addition to professional services to help improve air quality on site and ultimately reduce exposure to our clients’ staff. They are interested in novel and intuitive methods of displaying our data, which readily engage people and facilitate understanding.

We asked the group to use this data to create data visualisations (as teams or individuals), which will then be presented in a follow-up session to skill-share and learn.


7th June 2018 – Atmospheric quality data visualisation (2)

This second session is the follow-up session of the data viz lab. Here, those who had created some visualisations on the atmospheric data presented their work to the group, followed by a discussion of the works and the tools used.