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8 great data analysis tools

We all know there is a lot of data out there, but what most of us don’t know is how to organise and understand it all. Thankfully there are a lot of tools to help us. Here are eight great data analysis tools.


BigML is a machine learning tool that allows users to upload and format data into useful analytics. The program finds relationships in the data and can create a predictive model. You might have heard about BigML because it was recently used to predict what is needed for a successful Kickstarter campaign.


DataWrangler is a tool developed by Stanford University’s Visualization Group. It’s designed to clean and rearrange data so that other tools such as a spreadsheets and visualisation tools can use it. DataWrangler is a web based service and sends your data to an external site, which could be something to keep in mind depending on the material you need to analyse. It’s also a work in process and the developers ask users to share any feedback they have with them.

Google Refine

For those of you who really loooove spreadsheets there is Google Refine. It can import and export data in a number of formats. It can edit both text and numbers and automatically lumps stuff together that is connected. The program can also find anomalies such as typos and data input errors. It’s basically like a better and more advanced version of Excel, except that you can’t do normal spreadsheet calculations. Hmm..

Google Fusion Tables

Google Fusion Tables is an experimental visualisation tool that can be used with already formatted data. For a better look at what it does GigaOM created a map of gun violence in the world with the help of the tool. Basically the program turns data into a map or a chart.


Infogram, not to be confused with Instagram, is a snappy and easy data visualisation tool if you’re working with quite simple data (it’s probably a program even I could use, and I get a bit nervous by just looking at Excel). The program has a lot of charts and graphs (like the pie and a treemap) for you to use. A good tool to create nice infographics for blog posts and presentations.


Browser plugin Scraper for Google Chrome allows users to scrape (gather) data from websites. To use it highlight a part of the webpage you’d like to scrape, right-click and choose “Scrape similar…”. Anything that’s similar to what you highlighted will be rendered in a table ready for export, compatible with Google Docs. It’s a tool used by data journalists and others using data that can be found online.

Data driven documents

Data driven documents or D3.js is a Javascript library that allows users to manipulate documents and data and create visual models for browsers. “For example, you can use D3 to generate an HTML table from an array of numbers. Or, use the same data to create an interactive SVG bar chart with smooth transitions and interaction.” Sounds cool, although the last sentence is a bit unclear to me. There are several similar tools out there, for example Polymaps which does the same thing, but for maps.

Mr Data Converter

A good tool if you’re trying to convert your data from one format to another, for example from an Excel spreadsheet to html. The tool was created by the New York Times interactive graphics editor Shan Carter.

The next Music 4.5 event will be looking at what open data means for the music industry. Come along to the Music 4.5 Open Data event in March.

Image via JD Hancock’s flickr.