Over the past three years, Eric Balash, a Tableau Visionary and Tableau Public Ambassador, has been running the “Back to Viz Basics” (B2VB) project. The idea is to create a community of people new to data visualization and provide them with a guided, bi-weekly prompt to create graphs, charts, and tables. Each week, Eric and his team publish a relatively simple data set and ask participants to, quite simply, create and share a graph. The graphs start simple—line charts, bar charts, pie charts, scatterplots, and then move on to more bespoke or non-standard charts, like beeswarm charts and Sankey diagrams. While B2VB is not a project solely for those using Tableau, it mostly attracts the Tableau community (likely because the project is described as a “Tableau Community Project” on the main page), though Eric tells me there is a growing number of people using other tools like PowerBI.

I met up with Eric and Elisa Davis (B2VB’s Co-lead) at Tableau Conference earlier this month in San Diego to discuss an idea I’ve been playing around in my head:

Extend the B2BV project explicitly to the Flourish data visualization tool.

If you’re not aware, Flourish is a browser-based data visualization tool that enables users to create interactive and responsive data visualizations.

I’ve been playing around with Flourish for the last few months, to explore what it offers, how the menus work, and what you can and cannot do. Like any tool, it has some good things—e.g., ease-of-use, instant interactivity and responsiveness, and expansive styling options—and some not-so-good things—e.g., more than 160 separate menu options, some frustrating data import features, and some limited labeling options. But what I like about it intrigues me, especially because of the potential it holds when linked with Canva (which acquired Flourish in 2022) and the future potential to create relatively straightforward dashboards and between-graph interactivity.

Today, I’m launching Back to Viz Basics: Flourish Edition! This will be a part of the existing B2VB project. Every other week, users will download the data from B2VB Data.World project site, create a graph, and share it on Twitter/X or LinkedIn using the #B2VB hashtag and tag me (@jschwabish) or the B2VB main team (Eric Balash: @ReadySetData; Elisa Davis: @ItsElisaDavis; and Shreya Arya: @datavizfairy). Also be sure to fill out the Google Form on the B2VB site so Eric can share and link to your work in this Tableau dashboard. The original B2VB project is already in Week 11, so we’ll start there, but we can also backfill the original 10 weeks, which started with building a line chart with of Major League Baseball player salary data. I’ve already started posting tutorial vides on my YouTube channel.

For my part, I’ll create video tutorials for each graph that will contain two parts: The first will be the very basics of creating the chart in Flourish—how to load in the data, set the parameters, and get the basic chart set up and completed. In the second part, I’ll take the graph a step further by applying additional styling and interactivity options. I will also share mine and others’ data visualizations on my PolicyViz site with a separate post for each visualization. (To be absolutely clear, I am not employed by nor am I receiving any compensation from, the Flourish or Canva companies for this project.)

If you’re new to data visualization or just new to the Flourish tool, I encourage you to give this a shot. As a community, we can help determine whether and how tools like Flourish (think: RAW Graphs, Datawrapper) can be used to more easily and more effectively communicate data and analysis.

To get started, you will need to create two accounts: one at Flourish and one on Data.world. On the Data.world site, scroll down to the 2024/Week 1 – Build a Line Chart prompt, download the data (Excel or CSV), upload it to Flourish, make a line chart, and share. You can also tag me with any questions about using Flourish on Twitter or LinkedIn (@jschwabish everywhere)—I’ll try answer them the best I can. When you’re done, head over to my YouTube channel to watch how I created the chart. Going forward, at the end of the two-weeks, I’ll share my videos and final visualizations on YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a separate post on the PolicyViz site.

Good luck and have fun!