Sparklines on ProgrammableWeb

John Musser, May 3rd, 2006

Mashup SparklineFollowing-up on the “what’s new” at one notable set of additions are the sparklines. What are sparklines? The word was coined by information design guru Edward Tufte:

Sparklines are wordlike graphics, with an intensity of visual distinction comparable to words and letters. Letterforms are finely detailed: these constructions indicate the careful, meticulous, detectable, and routine distinctions made for centuries in typography … Why not construct data graphics that work at the resolution and intensity of detail of routine typography. Thus the idea of sparklines: small, intense, wordlike graphics.

They are indeed a powerful, concise way of representing data. On this site there are three sets of sparkline data: mashups per day (a “mashup index”), total mashups added here over the last six months, and total APIs over that same time:


Edward Tufte has been kind enough to make the entire chapter on sparklines available on his terrific site. And note that Tufte’s new book from which this chapter is excerpted, Beautiful Evidence, is to be published later this month.

FYI, the implementation behind the graphics on this site come via James Byers’ very useful Sparkline PHP Graphing Library.

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One Response to “Sparklines on ProgrammableWeb”

May 3rd, 2006
at 9:54 am
Comment by: Surf*Mind*Musings » The HCI Community and Internet Generativity: Upping the usability bar for community works

[...] Update, 05/03/06: Check out the coverage of sparklines over on programmableWeb. Filed under: General and HCI Comments: [...]

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John Musser
Founder, ProgrammableWeb

Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.