5 things Microsoft can teach us about data viz


Microsoft has come a long way since it released the beta version of Power BI earlier this year.

Following a number of iterations, the platform has been harnessed by journalists across the globe to tell beautiful stories with data, in spite of budgetary or skill constraints.

When journalists at KING 5 wanted to explore real-time presidential primary data on television and online they thought their idea was "only for the national networks, who’ve spent gobs of money on custom software packages".

But, with Power BI, the team was able to visualize very specific results from their counties and congressional districts on television and make this interactive data available on king5.com at the same time.

"KING 5’s web and mobile audience had up-to-date data because Power BI publish to web automatically refreshed the reports from a central Azure SQL database," Microsoft explains.

Other users have also leveraged Power BI to a conduct sentiment analysis of Pokémon Go tweets, analyze the Peruvian Congress, reveal disturbing trends of gun violence, and more.


Image: Pokénation used Power BI to analyze and visualize 43,000 tweets about Pokémon Go.

To support other aspiring data journalists, the Power BI team has joined forces with Alberto Cairo to develop five online learning courses on visualization methodology for effective data storytelling.


Image: Microsoft's five visualization courses.

The courses include an introduction to visualization, an overview on data exploration, detail on truthful visualization, tips for choosing the right graphics, and insights on design and narrative. Each class features interactive Power BI demos, so viewers can follow along and learn in real-time. Check out the course intro below.

Find out more about Microsoft's Data Journalism Program here.