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Re: st: create pretty charts


From   Nick Cox <njcoxstata@gmail.com>
To   statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
Subject   Re: st: create pretty charts
Date   Fri, 7 Sep 2012 10:27:07 +0100

That's a good exercise for students, to say what is wrong with those
displays. I refer to
<http://www.tableausoftware.com/learn/gallery/product-survey-analysis>

1. State identifiers running alphabetically from CA to WA; that's helpful.

2. Heavy use of red and green for contrasts: haven't Tableau heard
that distinguishing red from green is a common  difficulty among
sighted people?

3. The projections into the future of interest levels seem to be based
on fitting quadratics. Interest levels going negative will presumably
underline emphatically what is dropping off sales-wise. Discuss.

4. The moving averages seem unsuited to the data, or vice versa.

Still, I must try to be constructive and positive. No doubt Tableau
nowhere insists on those choices.

I (and other user-programmers interested in graphics) would really
like to be told about new good kinds of graphs that I can program in
Stata (and make the code available).

Otherwise, if there is a wishlist I suspect only StataCorp can deliver.

I guess that Maarten has put his finger on a major point. Graphs that
you can interact with are clearly of interest and -- if they were in
Stata -- many of us would be as happy as a three-year-old to play at
producing and to play with them. But when the play is done, it seems
that almost all researchers using Stata want mostly static graphs for
their theses, dissertations, reports, papers, books and presentations.
A dozen programmer-years developing in the direction of interactive
graphics (wild guess) is a dozen programmer-years not developing new
models, and model-handling facilities, which is what people directly
and indirectly ask for on Statalist week in, week out.

Nick

On Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 9:37 AM, Maarten Buis <maartenlbuis@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 6, 2012 at 11:30 PM, Nick Cox wrote:
>> Pablo and Miguel (and anybody else) would be doing a useful service if
>> they could specify exactly what in Tableau is really good and also
>> exceeds what they can do in Stata. That would give programmers if not
>> an agenda, then a cogitanda.
>
> I googled it, and it seems like a piece of software that allows you to
> program an interactive graph. Some of the example graphs do look
> pretty, but designing such infographics is best left to professionals.
> It reminds me a bit of the time that inkjet printers became available,
> so "normal" people could now freely choose and print any type of font.
> The result was a mass of horrible and completely unreadable documents
> with 16 or more different fonts.
>
> Even the example graphs provided by the company that makes the piece
> of software, which should showcase the best use of the software are
> not convincing: Most of them are pretty but make the content harder to
> read than necessary, some of them are downright misleading (worst
> example is: <http://www.tableausoftware.com/learn/gallery/product-survey-analysis>),
> and only few are useful (I like a set of linked graphs, such that when
> you select a subset in one graph that same subset is also highlighted
> in the other graphs. I think that is a nice way to get a feel for
> multidimensional problems.).
>
> So, my impression is that unless you want to start a four year study
> in graphical design, you'd best leave software like that alone (and if
> you do finish such a study you'll probably have learned that there is
> better software for designing such infographics).
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