OpenVis Conf 2017

If you like data, visualization, and the web, you got to find your way to OpenVis Conf next year. 2017 marked my third year in a row and it was as stimulating and inspiring as ever. Insightful talks, great people and a fun environment – can’t ask for much more than that.

The calm before the storm

I honestly recommend watching all of the videos but here were a few highlights for me:

DAY 1

MIKE BOSTOCK’S KEYNOTE

Mike showed off his latest project: a reactive programming environment called d3-express. I’ve gotten my hands dirty with RxJS over the last year and fallen in love with reactive programming, so its exciting to see Mike’s take on this paradigm. d3-express looks like a rapid way to code interactive projects and I’m interested to see if that will have a backwards effect and influence people to build more reactive tool and plugins for d3.

AMELIA MCNAMARa’S POLYGONS

Amelia provided lots of practical considerations to keep in mind when working with map polygons that I had never known before. Specifically, her explanation of how polygons are essentially binning data and therefore are subject to different outcomes based on how those polygons are assigned was insightful.

CATHERINe D’IGNAZIO & RAHUL BHARGAVA’S DESIGNING FOR LEARNERS

This may have been my favorite talk, since it specifically applies to an API tutorial project that I am working on right now. But I think the lessons departed by Catherine and Rahul about how to build a tool that is approachable by a newcomer applies to anyone building anything, even if you’re an expert building tools for other experts.

DAY 2

Amanda Cox’s KEYNOTE

Amanda’s exploration of how we communicate uncertainty and where we might go from here was informing and left me with a lot to think about. Curious to see how this communication evolves in the BI space as predictive analytics becomes more mainstream.

NOAH VELTMAN’S POLYGON MORPHING

Noah’s session may as well have been a standup comedy routine (he killed). His exploration of the problem space was both entertaining and intriguing. It actually informed me about a problem I’ve seen before when animating lines in an interactive (but never did anything about). Turns out there’s a solution for that.

Vega-lite

Kanit “Ham” Wongsuphasawat, Dominik Moritz, & Arvind Satyanarayan presented on the amazing work they’ve been doing with Vega-lite. I walked into this a bit of skeptic – I’d played with an earlier version of Vega and while I saw the potential, I struggled a bit with it and found the documentation lacking for my use case. The Vega-lite restored my faith though and I’m looking forward to jumping into the beta and hopefully clearing those hurdles that I ran from before.

CONNOR C. GRAMAZIO’S COLOR DESIGN TOOLS

I tried to pick my top 3 from each day but couldn’t help but include 4 for Day 2. Loved the color tools that Connor showed and the evidence he presented to validate the effectiveness of them. I’m anxious to play with the color palette generator on my next project.

 

Again, while those were my favorites, all of the talks were excellent and I’m looking forward to revisiting the videos when they’re released.