Data visualizations are everywhere today. From creating a visual representation of data points to impress potential investors, report on progress, or even visualize concepts for customer segments, data visualizations are a valuable tool in a variety of settings. When it comes to big data, weak tools with basic features don’t cut it. The following 39 tools (listed in no particular order) are some of the best, most comprehensive, sophisticated-yet-flexible visualization tools available — and all are capable of handling big data.

Many of these tools are Open-Source, free applications that can be used in conjunction with one another or with your existing design applications, using JavaScript, JSON, SVG, Python, HTML5 or drag-and-drop functionality with no programming required at all. Others are comprehensive business intelligence platforms capable of sophisticated data analysis and reporting, complete with a multitude of ways to visualize your data. Whether you need to analyze data and determine the best ways to present it to clients or partners, or you have a visual layout in mind and need a tool to bring your concept to life — there’s a tool on this list to serve your needs.

1. Polymaps

polymapsNeed to display complex data sets over maps? Polymaps is a free JavaScript library and a joint project from SimpleGeo and Stamen. This complex map overlay tool can load data at a range of scales, offering multi-zoom functionality at levels ranging from country all the way down to street view.

2. NodeBox

A family of open-source tools developed by the Experimental Media Research Group, NodeBox offers capabilities ranging from a cross-platform graphics library to a Mac app that creates 2D visuals coded with Python.

3. Flot

flotA JavaScript plotting library for jQuery, Flot is a browser-based application compatible with most common browsers — including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera. Flot supports a variety of visualization options for data points, interactive charts, stacked charts, panning and zooming, and other capabilities through a variety of plugins for specific functionality. A more easy to use alternative would be to create charts and graphs with the help of a WordPress table plugin.

Key Features:

Supports lines, plots, filled areas in any combination

Use combinations of display elements in the same data series

Plot categories and textual data

Add HTML with standard DOM manipulation

Produce interactive visualizations with a toggling series

Direct canvas access for drawing custom shapes

4. Processing

Processing was originally created as a means to teach computer fundamentals in a visual context, but is now used by students, designers, researchers, artists and hobbyists to create learning modules, prototypes and for actual production. Users can create simple or complex images, animations, and interactions.


The sister site of Processing, Processing.js is the tool you need to transition your complex data visualizations, graphics, charts and other visuals to a viable web format without any extensions or plugins. That means you can write code using the standard Processing language and insert it into your website, while Processing.js makes it functional without additional coding requirements.

Key Features:

Allows Processing code to be run by any HTML5 browser

Integrate animated and interactive visualizations into any web page

No major additional coding necessary

6. Tangle

Tangle is a JavaScript library and tool that takes visualizations beyond the visual, allowing designers and developers to create reactive programs that provide a deeper understanding of data relationships. For example, a web-based conversion calculator that converts currency or measurements.

7. D3.js

A JavaScript library for creating data visualizations with an emphasis on web standards. Using HTML, SVG and CSS, bring documents to life with a data-driven approach to DOM manipulation — all with the full capabilities of modern browsers and no constraints of proprietary frameworks.

Key Features:

Bind arbitrary data to DOM

Create interactive SVG bar charts

Generate HTML tables from data sets

Variety of components and plugins to enhance capabilities

Built-in reusable components for ease of coding

8. FF Chartwell

FF Chartwell transitions simple strings of numbers into editable data visualizations for further customization using OpenType features. It’s an extension that can be used with a standard design suite, such as Adobe Creative Suite, to simplify the process of designing charts and graphs.

9. Google Maps

Google Maps offers several APIs for developers, such as Google Earth, Google Maps Images, and Google Places. These tools enable developers to build interactive visual mapping programs for any application or website.

10. SAS Visual Analytics

Visual Analytics is a tool for exploring data sets of all sizes visually for more comprehensive analytics. With an intuitive platform and automatic forecasting tools, SAS Visual Analytics allows even non-technical users to explore the deeper relationships behind data and uncover hidden opportunities.

Key Features:

Deploy on-premise or in a public or private cloud

Drag-and-drop autocharting chooses the best layout for data

Pop-up boxes identify potentially important correlations

Scenario analysis enables predictions based on variable changes

Save views as reports, images or SAS mobile apps

Create web-based, interactive reports

Easy integration of action elements for users to manipulate data


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