Polychart Co-Founder Lisa Zhang

Introducing Polychart’s Lisa Zhang
I spent some time talking with Polychart’s Lisa Zhang this past week, as I was curious to know about the new browser-based data visualization tool she helped create.

Lisa was gracious enough to allow me to record our conversation and post it as a podcast to dataremixed.com so you can listen in by clicking the play button above! (Read more about their start-up story here)

In a nutshell, Polychart is a tool that allows you to visualize your data via a drag-and-drop user interface without leaving the comfort of your web browser. Data viz programmers will also find the Polychart javascript charting library useful and more flexible.

Polychart Test Drive:
The Beta User Page at polychart.com allows users to upload csv files and play with the drag-and-drop user interface. Here’s a screen shot of a visualization I created from web browser statistics from December 2008 until March 2012:

How-to Video for Polychart Drag-and-Drop UI:
Polychart has a pretty helpful and easy to follow “how-to” video posted to their website, which I embedded below for your reference, so you can get a feel for how the user interface works (I found it relatively easy to learn):

My take on Polychart:

  1. Very impressive, and fun to explore my own data sets right in the browser
  2. It’s still quite “beta”, meaning there are a number of things I expected to be able to do, but wasn’t able to figure out (like displaying the x-axis date range values, embedding, etc.)
  3. It’s not quite comparable to other more feature-rich data visualization suites like Tableau (why? calculated fields, table calcs, parameters, background images, quick filters, tooltips, etc. etc. make Tableau much more functional)
  4. Polychart seems to have a home in the dataviz space – I can see using Polychart to share data online with others in a way that allows them to explore the data themselves

Getting to Know Polychart Yourself:

  • Visit the website & sign up for a beta invite
  • Follow Polychart on Twitter
  • Be a fan of their Facebook page
  • Ask them a question below! – what else would you like to know that I didn’t ask?

What’s your take on Polychart? Have you had a chance to play with it? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by (and listening!)
Ben