Data visualisation

A Guardian data visualisation showing principal areas of Cabinet Office spending

The Guardian has released the first instalment of a toolkit to allow journalists working for any news organisation to create Guardian-style data visualisations using its code.

The Miso project, a series of software libraries, has been set up with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation and in collaboration with US open web technology firm Bocoup.

The first release of code is a JavaScript library called Dataset.

Interactive lead at the Guardian Alastair Dant – who spoke about the project at the last news:rewired journalism conference – told that releasing its open source code will help journalists tell stories visually.

"Even though there's open data there are not so many open tools," he said.

The project embraces the idea that this year is the year that people are learning to codeAlastair Dant
Dant explained that Miso aims to release standard format reusable examples "falling into the spirit of GitHub" (a web-based hosting service for software development projects).

He hopes that news organisations – as large as the Guardian right down to the hyperlocal – will be able to use the open source code, explaining that "a lot of this programming is something that one person can do".

He also hopes the Miso project will "demystify interactive content" and encourage journalists to learn.

Dant says when he meets journalism students "there's a desire to learn simple programing skills".

"At the same time there are not many structured examples that people can learn from.
"The project embraces the idea that this year is the year that people are learning to code ... people have got to acknowledge you can't just press a button and have a visualisation."

Writing on the Guardian's Developer Blog, interactive developer for the Guardian Alex Graul said: "The Guardian is committed to open journalism and the Miso libraries are part of a process of building a truly open interactive journalism, where we not only make raw data available to the public but also open up the 'full stack' - from data processing tools and scripts to the visualisation tools used to create the final output. "

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