One of my favorite books during my career in computer science was Edward R. Tufte’s Envisioning Information. Why? It made me think differently about how represent the real world of information that is complex, dynamic and multidimensional. It’s a landmark book with amazing examples to illustrate the fundamental principles of information displays and the winner of 17 awards for design and content. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing it I would check it out here.
What made me think of Mr. Tufte’s masterpiece? It’s the public preview of project codename “GeoFlow” for Excel which empowers users to take an existing data set and visualize it it 3D.
GeoFlow originated in Microsoft Research, evolving out of the successful WorldWide Telescope project for scientific and academic communities to explore large volumes of astronomical and geological data. Researchers collaborated closely with the Office product team to usher GeoFlow from its research lab inception to this public preview availability in Excel. GeoFlow adds to the existing self-service Business Intelligence capabilities in Excel 2013, such as Microsoft Data Explorer Preview and Power View, to help discover and visualize large amounts of data, from Twitter traffic to sales performance to population data in cities around the world.
GeoFlow is a remarkable tool and just one more example of how Microsoft is changing the self-service BI landscape. – Jon C. Arnold