Last updated: October 17, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions

This list will help you to find tools together with readings about how to use them. It is an easy way to go through all the information on this website.

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Click on one of the categories below:

  1. How can I add sound to a PowerPoint publication?
    • PowerPoint has the option to insert audio into a slide (see Insert ribbon).
    • If you want audio to play across multiple slides or the entire presentation, a little bit more work is required, see: Play sounds across multiple slides.
  2. Is it possible to embed an interactive / animated map into a PowerPoint slide?
    Yes there are several techniques to do so:
    • A commercial solution is provided by Gmark. Their product vMaps adds a new button to your PowerPoint ribbon which gives access to more than 3000 vector maps at a single click which can be edited, styled and animated as you need. In addition, Gmark sells interactive PowerPoint templates.
    • Using an map image and PowerPoint's tools one can create an interactive callout maps as demonstrated in this video.
    • One can embed Google maps (and other web pages) with the help of the Live Web add-in, as explained in this video.
    • The native PowerPoint animation allows to create an animated map (point moving along a path), see this video.
  3. My PowerPoint presentations tend to have too much text. How can I make better slides?
  1. I am new to data visualization. Is there any gentle introduction?
  2. How can I add data visualization to my website without programming?
    • A simple start is Data Wrapper: once you have got your data in a spreadsheet, you can copy them to the Data Wrapper website, choose a chart type, publish the chart and copy the embed code into your web page.
    • Another online service is upload your data into an online spreadsheet, create a charts and download this infographic as an image file.
    • A similar approach is Google's Fusion Tables: you must upload your spreadsheet and can choose a chart. Next you will get a link, which can be embedded in your web page.
    • Usually, Flash charts have a more attractive graphical quality. Fly Charts is a non-free product, which produces interactive Flash charts. Embedding is a bit more complex. Moreover, notice, that Flash is not (easily) displayed on mobile devices such as the iPad.
    • More advanced users may have a look on Visual Data Web (in particular the tools section: special tools for RDF encoded data).
    • Further readings on methods and techniques are to be found in the Data Visualization section of our Techniques page.
  3. What software tools do support data visualization through Javascript?
    • A good-looking and free product is Highcharts, which supports a large set of animated chart types.
    • Google charts are exposed as JavaScript classes and provide many chart types. The default appearance will usually be all you need, and you can always customize a chart to fit the look and feel of your website.
    • The JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit produces nice interactive charts.
    • A more generic approach is using Raphaël, a small JavaScript library that should simplify your work with vector graphics on the web.
    • For more products, see the Data visualization section of our Tools page.
  4. Is there any software to interactively explore and analyze my data (and show it to other people)?
    • GGobi is an open source visualization program for exploring high-dimensional data. It provides highly dynamic and interactive graphics such as tours, as well as familiar graphics such as the scatter plot, bar chart and parallel coordinates plots.
    • StatSilk offers a range of web-based and desktop software to cater to diverse mapping and visualization needs. It is intended to make data analysis easy, efficient and enjoyable.
    • More in the Data Visualization section of Tools page, see for example Gapminder and Tableau Public.
  1. How to create a timeline without programming?
    • There is a wide range of software and online services for creating timelines. We only give a few examples, more information is to be found in the Timelines section of the Tools page (and also that list is a selection). A choice depends on project purpose and individual preferences, e.g. teaching (several people may enter data), static on a web page (single author), is the timeline printable or not, is there a choice between sharing and keeping private. Examples of timeline services, which don't require programming are Dipity, Preceden, Tiki-Toko, Timeglider and Timerime.
  2. I want to have my complete timeline on my own server. What software is available?
    • A classic piece of software is the SIMILE timeline widget, but it may not work so well on touch devices.
    • Timeline.js is rather popular, it works well on touch devices and also made according the principle of responsive design.
  1. How to make an (interactive) map for a website?
    • This is a complex question. It depends. A first choice is between georeferenced vector maps and image based maps. The latter type is more frequently used in infographics. Although various image file types can be used, SVG files may give best results. For information about adding interactivity to SVG files, see the section Graphics and Animation of the Techniques page.
    • Another option is using Flash, but this does not work on most mobile devices (at least not without special apps as the Puffin or Photon browser).
    • Unless you use one of the online map authoring services (e.g. Build-A-Map, Click2map, ZeeMaps - see the section on this website) you will have to do some programming (e.g. in Javascript). You may want to read the introduction by Bruner: How To Build an Interactive Map with Open-Source Tools? There is more useful information in the Data Visualization and Mapping section of out Techniques page.
  2. I am not going to spend much time to map making. Are there any quick solutions?
  3. How to obtain map backgrounds, which can be customized?
    • There are a few sites where digital maps in various image formats can be downloaded provided the terms of use are respected, for example
    • You may also use the online map authoring services to create the map image you need (see above question 1).
    • Wikimedia Commons has a nice collection of SVG maps.
    • World Map Finder is a useful site to discover map files, even on city level.
    • For more, see the section Modern Maps of Tools & Resources page.
  4. I need a historical map, i.e. a map showing a geographic situation of the past. How can I make that type of maps?
    • Start with an old map. To find a suitable one, browse through the collections of digitalized old maps in section Historical and Old Maps of the Tools & Resources page.
    • Use the old map as background to draw upon an SVG map, using one of the SVG editors.
  1. What should I know to make an e-book?
  2. What tools do I need to create an epub book?
    • A dedicated e-book editor is highly recommended, for example Sigil for epub 2 and BlueGriffon or Yutoh for epub 3. In addition, you need to install an e-book reader as Readium or Azardi. Please, refer to the Epub2 and Epub 3 sections on the Tools page for more information about tools and to the same section on the Techniques page for the 'how to'.

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