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November 13, 2019: Data Visualization Theme

Meeting Recording and Slides

Recordings and slides are available to CDI Members that are logged in to the wiki.

These are the publicly available introductory slides. Log in as a CDI member to see the other presentation slides. 

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Agenda (in Eastern time)

Times are approximate.

11:00a Welcome 

11:05a  Working Group Announcements CDI_20191113_OpeningSlides.pdf

11:15a   Introduction to the Visualization Theme - Lindsay Platt, USGS

11:20a  Laura DeCicco - Visualization with R

11:35a  Rich Signell - HoloViz

11:50a  Ben Letcher - An interactive mapping tool: overview of the interactive catchment explorer

12:05p  Dionne Zoanni - USGS Tableau workshop

12:20p  Results of community voting on the statements of interest CDI_20191113_ClosingSlides.pdf

12:30p  Adjourn


Introduction to the Visualization Theme

Lindsay Platt is a Water Data Scientist for the Integrated Information Dissemination Division within the Water Mission Area and holds a Bachelor's degree in Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech. Her primary role is to distill large or complex water data into meaningful insights through reproducible science and innovative data visualizations. She also leads the USGS R training program, which teaches other USGS scientists how to wield the power of scientific computing to create their own reproducible workflows.

Visualization with R

Laura DeCicco works at the USGS Upper Midwest Water Science Center.


Rich Signell is a research oceanographer at the US Geological Survey in Woods Hole.

An interactive mapping tool: overview of the interactive catchment explorer

Decision makers can benefit from tools that allow rapid understanding of complex scientific data and models. We have built the Interactive Catchment Explorer in response to the need for natural resource managers to prioritize management actions based on multiple criteria. Key functionality includes spatial aggregation and multivariate filtering. Using the explorer, users can identify patterns in data, select locations that meet multiple criteria and understand relationships among variables.

Ben Letcher is a research ecologist with the Leetown Science Center focussing on aquatic ecology and development of web applications to explain complex data and models.

USGS Tableau workshop

Dionne Zoanni is a service manager at USGS Cloud Hosting Solutions.  She helps to facilitate the front-end development and management of Cloud services related to Big Data, Lidar, GIS, and data visualization technology.

A poll administered by at the November monthly meeting:


  1. Announcements

    1. Powell Center Fall Seminar series

    2. USGS employees - join the CDI Microsoft Team

    3. Happy GIS day!

  2. Introduction

  3. Visualization with R

    1. You can do a lot with R, and using packages like ggplot2 can cut down on mistakes when doing everything manually.

    2. USGS R-map blogs




    3. Blodgett and DeCicco blog, "R for Water Resources":

    4. ggplot2 blog:
  4. HoloViz
    2. the best link for the demo files can be found at
    3. The link to the reproducible notebooks demo of HoloViz is:
  5. Interactive Mapping Tool
    1. The interactive catchment explorer can be found at
    2. These tools were built for decision makers, and we'd like to explore further how visualizations affect decisions.
  6. Tableau
    1. - CHS Help Center (Search "Tableau")
    2. - sign up for the Tableau list serv for announcements
    3. USGS Tableau Microsoft Team 
  7. Community Voting Results
    1. 2020 Community Voting Results



  1. So is MS Teams akin to Slack?
    1. Yes MS Teams is quite slack-like
    2. Yes, it is the MS version of slack, and also replaces Skype for business

Visualization with R

  1. Where is the best place to start to learn visualization skills (R?), for someone with minimal R knowledge?
    2. (also an in-person class)
    3. Hadley Wickham probably has a basic GGplot /plotting in R book
    4. There is a free and open source R book that assumes no R prior knowledge R: The book covers both viz skills and data manipulation.also, the 3rd edition of Gggplot2 will be open source
    5. A collection of free books on R and Data Science:
  2. Laura, what's the best path for creating a USGS publication-ready plot?
    1. SPN (USGS Science Publishing Network) type graphs:
  3. What's the status of R Shiny servers in USGS?
    1. UMESC has worked with CHS to host a shiny server and it's up and running. Now just ironing out the kinks with a few display bugs. Thus far the server is UMESC-specific but hopefully the next center who sets one up will have an easier time! (Emily Weiser)
    2. Richie do have a CloudFormation template for your R Shiny instance in CHS?
  4. In R, what formats are the maps available in?


  1. Reactions from the crowd to the demo: 🏄‍♀️ rad Rich 👏
  2. As a warning, the directions do not always work with the aws binder sever Rich is using
    1. The Binder I used was the one we deployed for Pangeo on AWS: (anyone can use that also!)

Interactive Mapping Tools

  1. This ICE demo deserves a bunch of adjectives and emoticons too. I suppose there's quite a learning curve to develop something like this, though? (or build off of?)
    1. Yes, it requires a good developer that can use VueJS, bootstrap, crossfilter, Leaflet, d3
  2. Hi Ben, what is ecosheds built on?
    1. See above?
  3. Hi Ben, I was interested from the developer perspective why Leaflet was selected to build the web application as opposed to another platform, such as ArcGIS API for JavaScript? I am curious if there were more benefits offered or if it's because of the benefits of it being open source software?
    1. yes, we used Leaflet because it is open source.
  4. Re: understanding how hosted visualizations are used — I would suggest looking into Google Analytics events to record specific page interactions, and CrazyEgg, which creates heat maps of all clicks on a page. Google Analytics is free, and CrazyEgg requires a license


  1. Is there a gallery page of examples or some examples of Tableau to point to? This is the first time I've heard of Tableau and I'd like to explore what is already out there.
  2. Is there a cost to host a Tableau dashboard on CHS? Or just the license cost? Those sorts of ongoing costs can be challenging to budget into project funds.
    1. CHS pays for the infrastructure (server costs), and each individual user pays for a yearly license subscription that can range from 144-588 dollars per year, depending on the license you choose. CHS manages those licenses.
  3. Could you repeat the date for the Tableau webinar?
    1. November 22 at noon Eastern