Learning Something New

This week, I learned something new! Interactive charting that helps tell a story of change over time. Check out the chart below and then read the blog post on continuous learning.

Press the blue play button to start the animation. Also, you can click any spot on the lower timeline and the chart will re-animate based on the month you select.

Hint: Watch for the complete overtaking of the EV market by the Tesla Model 3 in about April 2018.

Funny things happen when you sit around the office after 5:00. I was visiting with a co-worker about data visualization. The co-worker asked me what types of visualizations catch my eye when I am on the internet.

I told her that I really liked the animated charts that adjust on the time scale to show changes over time. The exact chart I recalled was a history of the gross domestic product (GDP) for various countries around the world.

So she just comes out and says , “Go figure out how to do it.” She also encouraged me that it could not be rocket science and with a little effort I could figure it out.

What my co-worker didn’t realize is that I had read Harvard Business Review article on coping with stress a couple weeks ago. Yes…my job has it moments of stress. I know that comes as a shocker.

My takeaway from the article was that I had three options for dealing with stress.

  1. Grind Through It
  2. Retreat!
  3. Focus on Learning

So after my wife and I put the kids to bed that evening, I looked at my phone and saw that my co-worker had sent me a note saying I should look at Electric Vehicle (EV) sales over time and then try to make an animated chart.

So around 9:00 PM, I started my journey to create an animated chart of EV sales in the United States.

I quickly came across various tools and approaches to create animated charts. I decided to use Flourish Studio. They had a quick blog post showing how to create a bar chart race without any coding needed. Within a few minutes, I had created a test chart and was ready to roll.

My next step was to go find the data needed for the chart. I honed in on data from InsideEVs. Their website is full of various news, videos, and data on EVs. They happened to have sales data for EVs make and model since 2011 readily available.

After an hour or two setting up various types of spreadsheets and testing various statistical techniques, I settled on charting the vehicle sales using a Rolling 12 Month (R12) Average. The R12 method allowed a smoother transition in the charting since sales of EVs are variable by season (and available tax credits) which caused for many vehicle models to move into and out of the data-set quickly.

By 1:15 am, after a few test runs with the chart, I had dropped the HTML code into my blog and it actually works.

The moral of the story, get out there and learn something new everyday!

Published by Bradley Ford

Local government professional in Texas that enjoys discussions on data, analytics, and leadership.