- We sat down with Shan
① to learn about her journey to data visualization,
② the importance of open sourcing these tools,
③ and how kepler.gl will empower members of the open source community / to leverage location data / to make better, more useful maps.
When did you first get interested in computer science?
My background is actually in architecture.
This experience got me interested in coding and computer science / because I learned / that you can actually use code / to assist in the design process.
This type of 3D modeling opened the door / to a completely new domain / for me.
How did you transition from computer science to data visualization?
- I didn’t want to put design away / just because I was also interested in computer science.
Given your untraditional path to data visualization, was it difficult to feel accepted by this community?
- The data visualization community combines design and software engineering.
- usually takes some time / before people get a sense for your skillset.
What advice would you give architects or designers like yourself who are interested in getting into coding?
- I asked myself: “What can I do that combines creativity with coding?”
- if you find yourself actually interested in math, excited about seeing designs generated / by couple lines of code, / I think data visualization is a perfect path.
When you first came to Uber, what projects were you working on?
- they used data visualization / to help them plot charts / and make them look nice.
- Essentially, / it is an R package / that helps you make your charts sharper and more on-brand, Uber-style. We still use it!
What’s the coolest visualization you’ve ever made?
- A Day’s Worth of Uber trips in London
- The visualization basically depicts one full day of Uber trips / via an animation presented as moving lines / along the street.
- You can see the line fade in and out / as it moves, / imagining each of the lines / as one car driving on the road.
- I think / Uber was one of the first to have a strong visualization team / in terms of working across different domains (both physical and virtual) / and open sourcing our tools.
How did you first get involved with open source at Uber?
- deck.gl is a major open source effort / that the Data Visualization team has been working
on / fora while.
- We build data visualization tools / to help people get insights faster.
- Instead of spending two to three weeks building everything from scratch, / these tools help you quickly explore the data and validate your hypothesis / without having to write a lot of code.
Why did your team first decide to open source kepler.gl?
- We realized / there is really not much software out there / like kepler.gl. That’s why / we decided to open source it.
- As a software engineer, / when you create something truly awesome, / you naturally want to get it out to the world / so everybody else can use it.
- Once you open source it, / other people can also contribute back to it.
- In my opinion, / that’s how you make a library better and better.
What exactly does
kepler. do? gl
- It’s high performance and super easy-to-use, / given that all you need to do is drop in a CSV or a JSON file.
What is most challenging about open sourcing something?
- Emotionally, / it’s the fact / that everyone is going to see your code. You can’t hide it anymore.
- A lot of people say, “Oh, this visualization is beautiful,” / but when you dive into the code, / it might actually be built with hangers and duct tape.
And what is the most rewarding about the process?
- The most rewarding part / about open sourcing something is seeing the number of downloads / and knowing / that people actually find it useful.
Uber’s Visualization team has open sourced the following projects:
- dedicated to leveraging location data
- put design away デザインを切り離す
- depicts one full day 一日を描いている
- get it out to the world 世界に広める