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The Google Visualization API is a great way for people to make dashboards with slick graphics based on data without getting into the fine print of the scripting language itself. It utilizes the same tools as Google itself does, and makes visualizing data using API calls to the Visualization API. Thus a real-time customizable dashboard that is publishable to the internet can be created within minutes, and more importantly insights can be much more easily drawn from graphs than from looking at rows of tables and numbers.
- There are 41 gadgets (including made by both Google and third-party developers ) available in the Gadget Gallery ( https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/gadgetgallery)
- There are 12 kinds of charts available in the Chart Gallery (https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/gallery) .
- However there 26 additional charts in the charts page at https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/more_charts )
Building and embedding charts is simplified to a few steps
- Load the AJAX API
- Load the Visualization API and the appropriate package (like piechart or barchart from the kinds of chart)
- Set a callback to run when the Google Visualization API is loaded
- Within the Callback – It creates and populates a data table, instantiates the particular chart type chosen, passes in the data and draws it.
- Create the data table with appropriately named columns and data rows.
- Set chart options with Title, Width and Height
- Instantiate and draw the chart, passing in some options including the name and id
- Finally write the HTML/ Div that will hold the chart
You can simply copy and paste the code directly from https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/quick_start without getting into any details, and tweak them according to your data, chart preference and voila your web dashboard is ready!
That is the beauty of working with API- you can create and display genius ideas without messing with the scripting languages and code (too much). If you like to dive deeper into the API, you can look at the various objects at https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/reference
First launched in Mar 2008, Google Visualization API has indeed come a long way in making dashboards easier to build for people wanting to utilize advanced data visualization . It came about directly as a result of Google’s 2007 acquisition of GapMinder (of Hans Rosling fame).
As invariably and inevitably computing shifts to the cloud, visualization APIs will be very useful. Tableau Software has been a pioneer in selling data visualizing to the lucrative business intelligence and business dashboards community (you can see the Tableau Software API at http://onlinehelp.tableausoftware.com/v7.0/server/en-us/embed_api.htm ), and Google Visualization can do the same and capture business dashboard and visualization market , if there is more focus on integrating it from Google in it’s multiple and often confusing API offerings.
However as of now, this is quite simply the easiest way to create a web dashboard for your personal needs. Google guarantees 3 years of backward compatibility with this API and it is completely free.
Here is an interview with Charlie Parker, head of large scale online algorithms at http://bigml.com
Ajay- Describe your own personal background in scientific computing, and how you came to be involved with machine learning, cloud computing and BigML.com
Charlie- I am a machine learning Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Francisco Martin (our founder and CEO), Adam Ashenfelter (the lead developer on the tree algorithm), and myself were all studying machine learning at OSU around the same time. We all went our separate ways after that.
Francisco started Strands and turned it into a 100+ million dollar company building recommender systems. Adam worked for CleverSet, a probabilistic modeling company that was eventually sold to Cisco, I believe. I worked for several years in the research labs at Eastman Kodak on data mining, text analysis, and computer vision.
When Francisco left Strands to start BigML, he brought in Justin Donaldson who is a brilliant visualization guy from Indiana, and an ex-Googler named Jose Ortega who is responsible for most of our data infrastructure. They pulled in Adam and I a few months later. We also have Poul Petersen, a former Strands employee, who manages our herd of servers. He is a wizard and makes everyone else’s life much easier.
Ajay- You use clojure for the back end of BigML.com .Are there any other languages and packages you are considering? What makes clojure such a good fit for cloud computing ?
Charlie- Clojure is a great language because it offers you all of the benefits of Java (extensive libraries, cross-platform compatibility, easy integration with things like Hadoop, etc.) but has the syntactical elegance of a functional language. This makes our code base small and easy to read as well as powerful.
We’ve had occasional issues with speed, but that just means writing the occasional function or library in Java. As we build towards processing data at the Terabyte level, we’re hoping to create a framework that is language-agnostic to some extent. So if we have some great machine learning code in C, for example, we’ll use Clojure to tie everything together, but the code that does the heavy lifting will still be in C. For the API and Web layers, we use Python and Django, and Justin is a huge fan of HaXe for our visualizations.
Ajay- Current support is for Decision Trees. When can we see SVM, K Means Clustering and Logit Regression?
Charlie- Right now we’re focused on perfecting our infrastructure and giving you new ways to put data in the system, but expect to see more algorithms appearing in the next few months. We want to make sure they are as beautiful and easy to use as the trees are. Without giving too much away, the first new thing we will probably introduce is an ensemble method of some sort (such as Boosting or Bagging). Clustering is a little further away but we’ll get there soon!
Ajay- How can we use the BigML.com API using R and Python.
Charlie- We have a public github repo for the language bindings. https://github.com/bigmlcom/io Right now, there there are only bash scripts but that should change very soon. The python bindings should be there in a matter of days, and the R bindings in probably a week or two. Clojure and Java bindings should follow shortly after that. We’ll have a blog post about it each time we release a new language binding. http://blog.bigml.com/
Ajay- How can we predict large numbers of observations using a Model that has been built and pruned (model scoring)?
Charlie- We are in the process of refactoring our backend right now for better support for batch prediction and model evaluation. This is something that is probably only a few weeks away. Keep your eye on our blog for updates!
Ajay- How can we export models built in BigML.com for scoring data locally.
Charlie- This is as simple as a call to our API. https://bigml.com/developers/models The call gives you a JSON object representing the tree that is roughly equivalent to a PMML-style representation.
You can read about Charlie Parker at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/charles-parker/11/85b/4b5 and the rest of the BigML team at
Here is an interview with Zach Goldberg, who is the product manager of Google Prediction API, the next generation machine learning analytics-as-an-api service state of the art cloud computing model building browser app.
Ajay- Describe your journey in science and technology from high school to your current job at Google.
Zach- First, thanks so much for the opportunity to do this interview Ajay! My personal journey started in college where I worked at a startup named Invite Media. From there I transferred to the Associate Product Manager (APM) program at Google. The APM program is a two year rotational program. I did my first year working in display advertising. After that I rotated to work on the Prediction API.
Ajay- How does the Google Prediction API help an average business analytics customer who is already using enterprise software , servers to generate his business forecasts. How does Google Prediction API fit in or complement other APIs in the Google API suite.
Zach- The Google Prediction API is a cloud based machine learning API. We offer the ability for anybody to sign up and within a few minutes have their data uploaded to the cloud, a model built and an API to make predictions from anywhere. Traditionally the task of implementing predictive analytics inside an application required a fair amount of domain knowledge; you had to know a fair bit about machine learning to make it work. With the Google Prediction API you only need to know how to use an online REST API to get started.
Ajay- What are the additional use cases of Google Prediction API that you think traditional enterprise software in business analytics ignore, or are not so strong on. What use cases would you suggest NOT using Google Prediction API for an enterprise.
Zach- We are living in a world that is changing rapidly thanks to technology. Storing, accessing, and managing information is much easier and more affordable than it was even a few years ago. That creates exciting opportunities for companies, and we hope the Prediction API will help them derive value from their data.
The Prediction API focuses on providing predictive solutions to two types of problems: regression and classification. Businesses facing problems where there is sufficient data to describe an underlying pattern in either of these two areas can expect to derive value from using the Prediction API.
Ajay- What are your separate incentives to teach about Google APIs to academic or researchers in universities globally.
Zach- I’d refer you to our university relations page-
Google thrives on academic curiosity. While we do significant in-house research and engineering, we also maintain strong relations with leading academic institutions world-wide pursuing research in areas of common interest. As part of our mission to build the most advanced and usable methods for information access, we support university research, technological innovation and the teaching and learning experience through a variety of programs.
Ajay- What is the biggest challenge you face while communicating about Google Prediction API to traditional users of enterprise software.
Zach- Businesses often expect that implementing predictive analytics is going to be very expensive and require a lot of resources. Many have already begun investing heavily in this area. Quite often we’re faced with surprise, and even skepticism, when they see the simplicity of the Google Prediction API. We work really hard to provide a very powerful solution and take care of the complexity of building high quality models behind the scenes so businesses can focus more on building their business and less on machine learning.