Two Sankey-style diagramming tools which I have shamefully neglected until today are ParSets and Fineo. Both visualization tools have been released to the public in 2009 (first publication on ParSets in a research paper in 2006, predecessor project of Fineo, the Design Research Map project first mentioned in 2008). The main idea behind both tools is to visualize statistical data by grouping it into categories and showing bands/streams/parallelograms between the categories to represent the relationships between the categories.

ParSets and Fineo have similarities and differences. But before we go into details, let’s have a look at both tools first. Here is a screenshot from ParSets:

And here is one from Fineo:

ParSets was developed by Robert Kosara (Department of Computer Science, College of Computing and Informatics, University of North Carolina at Charlotte) and Caroline Ziemkiewicz (Brown University). The tool is open source and runs on Mac and Windows platforms. Read more about ParSets on the project page on Robert’s EagerEyes blog. The project had some funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the tool is designed to work on census data or other statistical data.

Fineo was developed by the DensityDesign group, a Research Lab in the design department (INDACO) of the Politecnico di Milano in Italy. This is an online tool and can be used by uploading csv data files. Try the online version here, or visit the project page on the Density Design blog. This is a self-sponsored project, targeting at designers and infographers.

There are some differences in the layout and design. ParSets shows the link between categories as parallelograms, while Fineo has curved bands. The main orientation of the diagram is top-to-bottom in ParSets, and left-to-right in Fineo. Hence the nodes (representing categories) are thin horizontal lines in ParSets, and vertical black bars in Fineo. Not sure, but this is probably an option setting.

The main difference though seems to be that ParSets keeps track of subdivisions over neighbouring categories. Fineo looks more at pairs of categories (category – relation – category) and is according to the authors more inspired by this feature of Sankey diagrams (read here). On a side note I would like to add to this that both ParSets and Fineo lack one important of characteristic of Sankey diagrams, which differentiates them from Sankey diagrams: flow direction, or, in other words, a ‘from-to’ relationship. “Both of the visualizations are weighted bipartite graphs”, but not directed graphs.

Still, both tools are very good pieces of work, and I am looking forward to seeing updates in the future.

Found this very simple online Sankey diagram drawing application developed by Jan Stępień. It is a very very basic interface where you can define nodes (“Processes”) and streams (“Reagents”) between source and sink nodes. The whole thing is in black and white and you will get outputs like these:

I played around a bit with the tool, but didn’t quite manage to do my own Sankey diagram. See for yourself. The code is open source, so if anyone wants to contribute… I updated my software list.

A new version of e!Sankey has been released recently. e!Sankey 3.0 comes with a series of new features, such as reconnecting arrows to another node, alignment of elements, definition of unit types, or the long awaited multiple element edit. According to their forum they have also implemented a number of features suggested by the e!Sankey user community.

The below are two new samples shipped with the test version. The first is for the efficiency of a car engine, in German…

… the second a remake of the oxy-combustion Sankey diagram I presented here on the blog two years ago:

The price has gone up a little for the new version. I have updated my Sankey software page accordingly.

The recent events in Libya have led to an increased interest in my Libya Oil Export Sankey diagram I created and featured almost three years ago here on the blog.

This post on the Infantile Disorder blog is deep-linking the Sankey diagram, to my disappointment without mentioning the source, and – even worse – without stating that these are 2006 figures.

The idea of presenting oil exports as a Sankey diagram has also been taken up by AFP Infographic Service in Germany. They did their homework and updated the values with data from the International Energy Agency. Instead of simple Sankey arrows, the info graphic shows oil pipes with a diameter representing the percentage values. An oil drop can be seen at the mouth of each pipe… Unfortunately this material is copyrighted, so I won’t feature it here. But you might want to check out the AFP Infographic on Libya Oil Export Sankey on the news portal of N24.

Gabor Doka has relased an updated version of his freeware tool Sankey Helper. The new version 2.4 has a macro for one-step default diagram generation, as well as enhanced colouring features such as using colours from data cells, and creation of colour hue variations. I haven’t tested the new release myself, but will keep you posted after doing so.

Just before the holidays a new version of e!Sankey became available. I had some time to play around with the new 2.5 release. Not that many new functions, it seems, but apparently some bug fixes and smaller improvements. The main new feature is the interface langauges in French, Portuguese and Spanish. The entry in my Sankey diagram software list has been updated accordingly.

I am grateful to Inspired Magazine for including Sankey Diagrams blog on their list of 20 Essential Infographics and Data Visualization Blogs.

It is an honour for me (and so I am quite flattered!) to be included in this list, given the fact that focuses exclusively on one specific data visualization diagram type.

Check out the other blogs mentioned on the list!

Following my last post, which led to quite a number of comments, one reader of this blog has suggested to create a ‘Worst Sankey Diagram’ award.

While I personally kind of like the idea, I am not sure whether we can find as many ‘bad’ Sankey diagrams, in order to make this a real competition… Wouldn’t a ‘Best Sankey Diagram’ award be more reasonable? This is what I am going after in my search for Sankey diagrams, that I can present here on the blog. After all I want to show how useful and powerful this type of diagram is for specific visualizations.