The new Google Spreadsheet Feature and Visualization API

Today Google released a new feature for Google Spreadsheets that gives users some very powerful data visualization capabilities. Considering the multitude of different ways people use Google Spreadsheets, Google couldn't possibly create unique, tailored visualization tools for everything, so they decided to open it up and let both users and developers leverage the Google Gadget platform.

Today Google released a new feature for Google Spreadsheets that gives users some very powerful data visualization capabilities. Considering the multitude of different ways people use Google Spreadsheets, Google couldn't possibly create unique, tailored visualization tools for everything, so they decided to open it up and let both users and developers leverage the Google Gadget platform.

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One of the most requested features for Google Spreadsheets is pivot tables -- Google still hasn't delivered their own solution to this problem, but one of the early adopters who started developing with this new Visualization API has done the hard work for them. Google is effectively hiring developers from around the globe to do their dirty work, for nothing.

Panorama Pivot Table for Google Spreadsheets is an interactive table that automatically extracts, organizes, and summarizes your data. You can use this report to analyze the data, make comparisons, detect patterns and relationships, and discover trends. In just a few steps any users can find answers such as the best selling region, and best selling product or analyze results of an academic research. With Panorama Pivot Tables for Google Spreadsheets, you can interact with the data and look at it in various ways in a simple drag and drop environment.

So far, the only "data source" the Visualization API supports is Google Spreadsheets, but there will likely be a day when you can extract information from things including spreadsheets, xml documents or even raw text.

Here are some basic examples Google has created to demonstrate what type of things can be done:

  • Motion Chart - Google acquired a company called Gapminder quite a while ago, and have finally made it possible for people to use this powerful tool. These "motion charts" add another dimension by instead of plotting time on an axis, you can plot two different data sets in reference to time, and have it animate as time goes forward. Pretty cool.
  • Time Series Chart - This appears to be the same chart control Google Finance uses to show financial information. It's a flash based chart that represents data over time, and allows for pieces of information to be plotted at various points.
  • Gauge - A chart type that gives the viewer an easy to understand speedometer type gauges with ranges.
  • Data Table - An interactive table with filters and grouping.
  • Heat Map - Lets users visualize geographic data by seeing a map with shades of colors based on numeric values.
  • Organizational Chart - The data source specifies relationships, and this gadget will represent them in an easy to understand view.