Datawrapper is an open source project by ABZV, a German training institution for newspaper journalists. It’s essentially a tool in which you can create interactive charts to embed into stories.You simply load a CSV file or paste your cleaned dataset into Datawrapper and choose which type of chart you’d like to create. Options include bar charts, column charts, grouped column charts, stacked column charts, line charts, pie charts, election donuts, donut charts, data tables, and maps.
After uploading the data, you’re prompted to note what organization the data came from and provide a link. Then you choose the type of visualization you’d like to create, add a title, and voila: a visualization appears. The degrees of interactivity include hovering and clicking, and there’s a link to your original data set already embedded within the graphic. You can also customize the pixel dimensions of the chart. With such a wide selection of charts and graphs, the program is suitable for almost any type of story that requires a chart/graph type visualization. The interactive component of graphs made with Datawrapper make the program stand out from other visualization tools.
In order to jump straight into using Datawrapper, your data must be previously cleaned. Basic knowledge of Excel or a similar software is necessary when using a visualization tool like Datawrapper. But the process of creating the visualization is very quick and simple—I was able to create a chart in just a few minutes. This is probably because Datawrapper has such an extremely user friendly interface. But even if you’re struggling, the site offers a quickstart guide, which gives a quick run-through of the creation process for new users. It also has a tutorial with screenshots for beginners who may have never created a data visualization before.
The tool is widely used online, but can also be downloaded onto your own server, which is recommended for those visualizing more sensitive data. Once a project is uploaded to Datawrapper, it’s accessible to anyone. So, privacy is a potential issue, and I also had some trouble initially with my browser crashing. The site ran pretty slowly not just on my personal laptop, but other PCs as well (including the ones in our classroom). I’m not sure why this is.
Really the best part of all is that Datawrapper is 100% free. Knowing that I’ll never have to pay for extra services is comforting because I can keep it in mind for future projects and stories. The Guardian has used Datawrapper in the past to show where teachers most often eat their lunches and how much time they’re allotted for lunch breaks. Their implementation of the bar and column charts looks really impressive, and the Datawrapper creds in the corner don’t take away from the visualization itself. It’s a good feeling to know the tool is “legit”! As for my final project, I think Datawrapper’s column charts will prove to be useful. I’d recommend this to anyone looking to craft a story with a data visualization in a more unique way than inserting a flat graphic.