Plotly-vs-RAW

Bubble Plots: Plotly vs RAW

Over on Digital Splash Media I’ve recently shared some experimentation with two fairly new online data visualization tools; RAW, from Density Design and Plotly. I first explored the use of bubble charts to explore some health care visualization using RAW.  While finishing up that exploration, I stumbled upon a fairly new tool, Plotly, which also provides an easy way to produce bubble charts to explore correlations, and wrote a basic how-to guide to showing correlations with Plotly bubble charts.

RAW beats Plotly in ease of mapping the data

RAW beats Plotly in ease of mapping the data

So, after exploring each tool with the same dataset, which of the two comes out the winner? First of all, I think both are good tools to have in your data visualization tool box and I’ll continue to use both. In terms of entering your data and configuring your bubble plot – defining what goes on the x axis, what goes on the y axis, what variable to base the bubble size on, etc. – the winner is Density Design’t RAW. I think it’s easier and more intuitive than Plotly’s interface.

Plotly outshines RAW with rollover text and better formatting of the plot

Plotly outshines RAW with rollover text and better formatting of the plot

That said though, once you define what data variables go where, Plotly definitely outshines RAW. RAW has some problems sizing the bubbles that you have to account for with a work-around and also has a habit of plotting bubbles at the extremities of the plot right on the axes, thereby requiring extra time touching up the plot in Illustrator if you want a nice looking plot. No need for work-arounds and post-production work with Plotly. It looks better out of the gate and is easier to style.

Plotly also gets extra credit for the ability to output an embeddable, interactive version of the bubble chart.

So, when it comes down to which of the two I’ll favor for most my future bubble chart needs, I’ll be reaching for Plotly more than I will RAW. But, that said, I highly recommend trying out both tools. They’re both free. They’re both new and both are bound to improve.