Trulia Hindsight - Processing Prototypes

31st May 2007 @ 7:17 am
Processing, weblog, trulia, vimeo, movies, Animations, real-estate, stamen, Work and information_visualisation
A few people have asked if I'm still using Processing now that I've joined Stamen (best known for their Flash work). Whilst it's true that I've been quiet on the Processing front, hard at work learning Actionscript 3 for Flash 9 to enable us to deliver Trulia Hindsight, much of that piece was informed by early sketches I wrote in Processing. (The graphs we made of a day of diggs were also made with Processing.)

Here are four movies we made from Trulia's data to get across the ideas we wanted to develop into Hindsight. It's a lucky thing that Flash 9 can shift many more points around the screen than Flash 8, otherwise we'd have been stuck. That said, it's still way behind Processing with OpenGL for this kind of visualisation, so choose your tools wisely when building a proof-of-concept in a different language to the one your project will be delivered in!

In the first few weeks of working with Trulia, we did some initial work exploring non-geographic views of their data such as tree maps and node graphs and so on. In the end though, the most compelling thing we came up with was to explore the different dimensions of the Trulia database in the form of animated maps.

Here are two movies, the first is San Francisco and the second is San Jose, showing the properties animated along an intuitive axis: the year they were built.

San Francisco by Year (Trulia Hindsight Prototype) from Stamen on Vimeo

San Jose by Year (Trulia Hindsight Prototype) from Stamen on Vimeo

And here are two more movies, also made with Processing, that show the properties that were sold in the last 10 years (under $2m), this time animated by sale price:

San Francisco by Price (Trulia Hindsight Prototype) from Stamen on Vimeo

San Jose by Price (Trulia Hindsight Prototype) from Stamen on Vimeo

The animations by sale price aren't available in Trulia Hindsight (yet) but we hope to work more on these less-intuitive dimensions for animation in the future.

No doubt whichever direction we go in next I'll still reach for Processing to try things out. It's the tool I find it easiest to think in, and although Flex Builder (based on Eclipse) is a great IDE, I still find myself wanting to bend Actionscript to be more like Processing when it comes to prototyping my ideas - it seems I'm not the only one!