January 26, 2014

Review: Infoactive (beta)

Infoactive is an on-line tool for creating infographics, and is similar to Infogram, Easel.ly and Venngage - see my earlier review of these offerings.

Infoactive garnered considerable attention from the visualization community as a result of its highly successful Kickstarter campaign, which raised $55,109 (more that quadrupling its $12,000 target) from 1,448 backers. The promotional video clip is shown below.

I was one of those backers, which granted me early access to the Infoactive beta program.What follows are my impressions of the tool after a few hours experimenting with it.

At the outset, it's important to stress that at the time of writing Infoactive is in beta. I did encounter several problems that made working with the tool difficult. So, if you're expecting to start using Infoactive and be immediately productive then you're going to be somewhat disappointed.

With that out of the way let's focus on what you can do with Infoactive. The tool is very easy to use. A panel on the left-hand side of the page holds a palette of graphical elements that you can drag-and-drop onto your infographic canvas.

Two features that distinguish Infoactive from its rivals are
  • Connect to live data sources: you can provide the URL of a public Google Drive spreadsheet to serve as your data source. If the data changes then so too does the Infographic connected to it.
  • Infographics created with Infoactive are interactive: this includes filtering and details on mouse-over events.
Below is a sample infographic created using Infoactive. I would have preferred to include my own example but due to some of the bugs I encountered I'm including the example created by the Infoactive team:


Two types of data source can be used: public Google Drive spreadsheets or CSV files uploaded to Infoactive. You can specify multiple data sources for each infographic, with each chart connected to a specific source. An editor is provided that allows you to modify cell values in each data source.


Several chart types are provided:
  • Line and area charts
  • Horizontal and vertical column charts
  • Pie and donut charts
  • Gauges
  • Maps
You can drag-and-drop charts into your infographic. Once in place, you can configure various attributes of the chart such as its title, data set and the data columns assigned to each axis.


Filters are a useful interactive element. When placed in an infographic they allow the user to focus on a subset of the data defined by a categorical data column. Charts associated with the filter are updated in response to the user's selections. You can configure the data source, data column and layout of each filter.


A variety of text blocks (header, sub-header, text, logo) is provided. Two default colour themes (classic, earth) are available - you can also create a custom colour palette.


Once you've created an infographic you can publish it. This provides you with a URL which displays the infographic on its own page (for sharing on social media), or an iframe for embedding in a web page.


It's early days for Infoactive. Many people have pledged support, so expectations are high. Similar tools are available but the live and interactive aspect of Infoactive infographics differentiate them from the others. Infoactive is a promising tool that is easy to use but work is needed to iron out the bugs.