Round-ups Tools

35+ data visualization tools that The Washington Post uses

The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, or NICAR, conference — an annual event run by Investigative Reporters & Editors —  is famous for its useful, helpful and diverse workshops to help journalists learn hands-on data journalism tools.

At this year’s conference in Baltimore last month, The Washington Post shared over 35 tools they have been using for building data visualizations. These resources span the entire spectrum of the visualization process, from initial data collection through to the meticulous design of visual representations.

These tools also reflect the top skills that visual journalists need, including CARTO, Python, front-end web development, R, illustration and 3D technology. 

Participants network in NICAR 2023, Baltimore.


  • Color Oracle: A free color blindness simulator that provides real-time insight into how individuals with common color vision impairments perceive designs
  • Pixie: A color picker for webmasters and designers 
  • Adobe Illustrator: A versatile vector graphics software 
  • Typescale: An online tool that helps designers and developers choose and preview typography scales for their projects
  • Procreate: A digital painting and illustration app for iPad. 
  • ai2html: A plugin that converts Adobe Illustrator graphics into HTML and CSS, simplifying the process of creating web-friendly artwork
  • An online tool that allows users to remove the background of images 
  • Coolers: An online color tool that allows users to create palette and get inspired by color schemes  
  • 1 dataset. 100 visualizations: A data visualization dataset that helps journalists get inspiration. 
  • Illustrator scripts: A script is a series of commands that tells Illustrator to perform one or more tasks 


  • Observable: An interactive platform for exploring and sharing data-driven insights through live code
  • VisiData: A command-line tool to clean, structure, explore and analyze big datasets.  
  • Custom Venn diagrams: An illustration used to calculate intersections between groups in a Venn diagram format, for which there are many online custom tools  
  • CSS Layout Generators: An online tool that assists in creating and customizing CSS layouts for web pages efficiently
  • jq: A nimble and adaptable command-line utility used for parsing and manipulating JSON data
  • xsv:  A command-line program for indexing, slicing, analyzing, splitting and joining CSV files
  • CodeSandbox: A collaborative CDE that entire teams can connect to the same environment and code live, together, anytime
  • Google Earth Engine: A computing platform that allows users to run geospatial analysis on Google’s infrastructure
  • Postman: An application that allows the testing of web APIs
  • Val Town: A social website to write and deploy TypeScript, as well as build APIs and schedule functions from users’ browsers
  • JSON formatter: A JSON Validator that will format JSON data, and convert JSON to XML or  CSV 
  • RegExr: An online tool to learn, build and test Regular Expressions 
  • OpenRefine: A powerful free, open source tool for working with messy data, such as cleaning and transforming it from one format into another
  • Tabula: A tool for liberating data tables locked inside PDF files
  • RAWGraphs 2.0: An online data visualization-making tool
DON’T MISS  Six tools showcased at NICAR 2019 that you should probably learn


  • Eduard: An mapping tool that creates Swiss-style shaded relief images for maps
  • QGIS: A powerful open-source geographic information system (GIS) for mapping, spatial analysis and data visualization
  • Felt: An online mapping tool that allows users to create maps collaboratively
  • Natural Earth: a public domain map dataset available at 1:10 million, 1:50 million, and 1:110 million scales
  • Mapshaper: A software for editing Shapefile, GeoJSON, TopoJSON, CSV and several other data formats.


  • Brown noise: Sounds to help journalists with concentration 
  • Batch rename files: Shortcut for Macs/Windows/Linux to rename multiple files quickly 
  • Grid Garden: A CSS-learning game.
  • Obsidian: A personal knowledge base and note-taking software application that operates on Markdown files
Heather Wang

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the latest from Storybench

Keep up with tutorials, behind-the-scenes interviews and more.