Ever worried about your SVG graphics?

Not any more. Yesterday Microsoft published their fourth platform preview of Internet Explorer 9 – the last browser to get native SVG support – and I am here to tell you that it renders a lot of SVG content as was intended, right out of the box, the only caveat being: your box must be at least Windows Vista.

Check it out for yourself e.g. with this Price Kaleidoscope you might have seen at some conferences.

Internet Explorer 9 with native SVG support

If you’re stuck with WindowsXP in your office and wonder when this ubiquitous SVG world will come to a desk near you, you might be interested in SVG in Internet Explorer, a paper about possible transition strategies.

Comparing population pyramids

Comparing population data for regions that differ a lot in absolute numbers poses some challenges. While percentages come to mind population pyramids using percentages are a lot less familiar and are prone to mis-interpretation. But oftentimes absolute numbers means you have to adjust scales.

In the example below a clear indicator appears when the two population pyramids are scaled differently (which is not the case in all combinations). Here you see a region in the western part of Germany (the state of Hesse on the left) compared to one in the eastern part (Saxony). The latter showing an additional bulge (born in the 1980s).

Two population pyramids side by side with table

While the above example had been around for a while, it was updated today both in terms of data and technology wise. The data is Germany’s latest population projection broken down to the “Länder” level (=NUTS1). You can check out the population pyramid comparison at http://www.destatis.de/laenderpyramiden/

This population pyramid is now using the SVG Web toolkit so that it runs out of the box in modern browsers and in Internet Explorer just as well with the help of the Flash plugin.

And while we’re at the topic, let me plug the Animated Population Pyramid of Estonia which was recently published using the same code-base.

An even better population pyramid

Today Statistics Germany published their latest population projection until the year 2060. Together with this data the animated population pyramid was updated as well.

Most notable is a new layout that will put the assumptions right beside the pyramid and will let you switch between four different scenarios for the future (different assumptions for: fertility, life-expectancy, net-migration).

Thanks to the SVG Web library it will work in any browser and takes full advantages of open web standards, namely Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). Watch a short screencast to see all of the functionality.

Then check it out for yourself, it’s available in english, french, german and russian at
Internet Explorer will need the Flash plugin to make this happen, all other browsers don’t.

Postscriptum: It seems, ONS published similar data today with a different approach in visualizing. Check it out, compare and please comment.

Showing off your data on the go

Ok, you’ve seen animated population pyramids before, but it happens to the best of us that they don’t work in a certain environment. Like I had to witness during a recent conference, someone clicks a link and nothing happens: wrong browser, missing plugin, content/security restrictions. All you get is a blank window.

While many of us will have their prepared laptop with them on conferences, there are lots of occasions where booting up even a smaller laptop doesn’t fit. Now what if you could show your data during every conversation and it just worked? Lucky enough who has an iPhone or iPod touch (OS 2.1 from August 2008 or newer). Have a look:

And check it out right here for yourself (works with Firefox 3+, Safari 3+, Opera 9.5+):

Animated Population Pyramid (Germany 1950-2050) – iPhone edition

Depending on the language of your browser this visualisation will be localized to either english, french, german, spanish or russian (meta-data is available in english/german only).

Don’t mistake this for a gadget ad. A lot of our products need quite some explanation, they need someone who puts them into context and this could perfectly happen during so many face to face conversations we have. And while we put most of our efforts online these days, in a personal conversation usually a leaflet or booklet has worked better so far. But this changes.

You might argue that mobile phones just become as powerful as ordinary computers and so will play all our web content including animations (like the iPhone already does), but with this example I wanted to show how one could adapt – with just a few hours work – interactive graphics for those smaller devices.

Statistics – a personal approach (1)

Statistical information is so close to everyday life and – at the same time – often so far from our personal experience. It’s all about averages, medians … .

Attempts to bridge this gap exist.

Inflation is one prominent example. Several National Statistical Offices have developped inflation calculators giving users a tool to adapt data to specific personal situations and to give better insight in the methods (see the explanations introducing the calculators).

DESTATIS’ personal inflation calculator (using SVG)

This calculator has been adapted to other countries. So by ONS (UK) or INSEE (France)

ONS Personal Inflation Calculator PIC


INSEE Simuler un indice des prix personnalisé

There is also a Slovenian version and

a Dutch one in Flash (thanks Katja!)


Statistics Switzerland has developed another flavour of such a calculator