I’ve had a copy of Edward Tufte’s Visual Display of Quantative Information sitting on my desk for years. It’s one of those rare books you pick up every nine months and just wander about… pure visual eye candy.
Tufte’s content strikes such a classic note with me, I remain convinced that’s he’s dead because it’s generally known that to achieve greatness… you’ve gotta kick the the bucket. Well, Tufte isn’t dead. In fact, he’s so not dead, he’ll continues wandering the planet pitching his information design ideas.
One recent Tufte development is the aptly named Sparkline. Sparklines are “intense, simple, work-size graphics”. They are graph-life representations that are designed to sit along plain-text in order to convey complex meaning. An example:
Stock performance for Tivo has been pretty flat for the past few years while both Adobe and Apple appear to be kicking some ass.
Still confused? Go read the chapter.
More good news. James Byers has created a PHP graphing library specifically for Sparklines. Note to self: Incorporate this idea in future weblog designs.