Envious of that dataviz? Now you can do it (with a Flourish)

What if you could re-use a data visualization? Data journalism is intricately related to open data — and open data journalism is traditionally taken to mean opening up just the data itself. But complex data visuals are often closed and difficult to reuse, even for the organisations which create them.

It makes sense — there is a kind of pride in creating a series of one-offs. However, some visuals deserve to be re-used with different data or with tweaks to design. Before today, re-using a visual without serious coding has only been a task for developers.

Flourish will make that process a whole lot easier. The tool, built by data journalism design team, Kiln, allows users to upload new data and change colours and details in complex visualisations.

Here at the Google News Lab, we are all about making the work of data journalists easier using technology, and we have teamed up with Kiln to make Flourish freely available to newsrooms and journalists. Over the next few months, we will be working with newsrooms to help them open up their visuals and make them easier to replicate and customize — and to re-use visualisations created and open sourced by other designers and data journalists.

Take this globe, built to display searches for immigration to G7 countries from around the world over time. Flourish allows new data to be uploaded and the new visual to be downloaded or embedded anywhere.

Connections globe map

Here’s a possible result: a visual I made with different data, showing searches for ‘move to…’ from G7 countries. It uses the same basic visual but with some key differences in content and colours.

Map showing searches for ‘move to…’ from G7 countries.

Flourish comes with several visual templates, ready for new data. It includes the globe above, a ‘horse race’ chart and a shaded map.

Some of the templates available in Flourish.

Visuals can just be reused as they are, or ‘stories’ can be created to allow you to narrate through the visual.

It turns any newsroom developer into a tools developer, allowing non-coding journalists to make high-end interactives and stories with no tech support. Crucially for the data journalism community, it lets newsrooms share templates with each other. Newsrooms can keep some private templates and release others to the world free or open-source.

From today, you can start using Flourish, or work with the team to create new templates and visual stories.

Interested? You can sign up here to find out more. Let me know what you do with it.

Read more on FastCo.

Simon Rogers is Data Editor at the Google News Lab and Director of the Data Journalism Awards (entries close soon!).