Jon Peltier’s Excel entry to the Chance Magazine contest

When we taught SciVis last year we had a couple of lectures on plotting, and we mentioned the horrible choice of default settings for plotting tools. All of the programs we tried (matplotlib, matlab, excel, numbers) had at least one really bad default that had to be changed. Excel, in particular, always struck me as generating ugly plots.

From now on, though, I will have to say that this is not necessarily the case. Jon Peltier has been consistently showing some pretty effective plots (and he also hates pie charts – awesome) on his blog, and his entry to the Chance Magazine’s contest (contest mentioned here) is no exception.

I have some trouble calling a 17-point plot “scientific visualization”, but then again, I guess that’s why Tableau gets more buzz than Paraview: there seems to be more demand for small-data visualization than the Vis/Infovis program would suggest. These small-scale plots are what people need day-to-day. We should be teaching Vis to fifth-graders…


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