Apr 6-7Boston, MA


OpenVis Conf is a two-day, single track conference about the practice of visualizing data on the web. Speakers will discuss best practices for data processing, storytelling, visual design, code structure and implementation using the latest and greatest technology and tools on the Open Web.

The third OpenVis Conf will take place on April 6th & 7th of 2015. You can see last year's talks here. Follow us on twitter for announcements at @OpenVisConf or subscribe to our mailing list below.

OpenVis Conf is brought to you by Bocoup, our gracious sponsors, and attendees like you.

Latest News


Our mission at Bocoup is to support universal access to information and the tools to understand and transform it. This informs a large part of why and how we operate OpenVis Conf. We are constantly seeking new ways to make our communities broader and more inclusive. To that end, for the first time, we are excited to announce that Bocoup is making available two diversity scholarships to attend OpenVis Conf! These cover not only the cost of the ticket, but also accommodation and travel to Boston, if needed.

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Monday, April 6
8:00 - 9:00


9:15 - 10:00

Jeffrey Heer


Jeffrey Heer is an Associate Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, where he directs the Interactive Data Lab and conducts research on data visualization, human-computer interaction and social computing. The visualization tools developed by his lab (D3.js, Vega, Protovis, Prefuse) are used by researchers, companies and thousands of data enthusiasts around the world. His group's research papers have received awards at the premier venues in Human-Computer Interaction and Information Visualization (ACM CHI, ACM UIST, IEEE InfoVis, IEEE VAST, EuroVis). Other awards include MIT Technology Review's TR35 (2009), a Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship (2012), and a Moore Foundation Data-Driven Discovery Investigator award (2014). Jeff holds BS, MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science from UC Berkeley (whom he then betrayed to go teach at Stanford from 2009 to 2013). Jeff is also a co-founder of Trifacta, a provider of interactive tools for scalable data transformation.

10:00 - 10:30

Lauren McCarthy

Learning while making p5.js

Lauren McCarthy is an artist and programmer based in Brooklyn, NY. She is full-time faculty at NYU ITP, and recently a resident at CMU STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and Eyebeam. She holds an MFA from UCLA and a BS Computer Science and BS Art and Design from MIT. Her work explores the structures and systems of social interactions, identity, and self-representation, and the potential for technology to mediate, manipulate, and evolve these interactions. She is fascinated by the slightly uncomfortable moments when patterns are shifted, expectations are broken, and participants become aware of the system.

p5.js is a JavaScript library that started with the original goal of Processing: to make coding accessible for artists, designers, educators, and beginners, reinterpreted for today’s web. In this session, Lauren will introduce p5.js and talk about the challenges of bringing Processing to the open web, and the wider web development community.

10:30 - 11:00


11:00 - 11:30

Jim Vallandingham

So You Think You Can Scroll

Jim Vallandingham is a visualization developer and data analyst. He currently works at the Nordstrom Data Lab as a Data Visualization Engineer/Data Scientist in sunny Seattle, WA. Previously, he worked on analyzing genomic data as a member of the bioinformatic group at the very special Stowers Institute. By night he develops interactive visualizations and describes the details of how quality visualizations are made. Jim's work has been featured on the likes of flowingdata.com and visualisingdata.com. Jim was an OpenVis Conf Speaker in 2013.

Scrolling is a fundamental part of the web experience. But scrolling within web browsers has been optimized for continuous homogeneous content, like text. Can scrolling be utilized to provide intuitive and seamless interactions in complex multimedia interactive visualizations? If so, how might we implement these using open web technologies? In this session, Jim will discuss the use of scrolling in data visualization and interactive storytelling, show numerous examples and dissect their implementation, compare scrolling to other techniques and explore how it applies to data visualization on the mobile web.

11:30 - 12:00

Ramik Sadana

A bit about touch

Ramik Sadana is a Ph.D. CS student at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His area of interest lies in the intersection of data visualization and natural user interfaces. His research focuses on the design and implementation aspects of systems that support knowledge discovery through information visualization, specifically for touch devices.

Touch input has enriched our interaction with almost every application we use on mobile devices. With visualizations too, the promise it holds is compelling. The progress towards making visualizations touchable, however, has been surprisingly slow. In this talk, Ramik will highlight the key challenges with designing visualizations for touch-based devices, discuss the platforms available, present notable experiments in the space and shed light on the direction(s) we are headed.

12:00 - 12:30

Lena Groeger

That's The Power of Loops

Lena Groeger is a news applications developer at ProPublica, where she makes interactive graphics and data visualizations. Before joining ProPublica in 2011, Lena was at Scientific American covering topics in psychology and neuroscience, and before that she designed information graphics and reported on technology and national security for Wired. She worked as a graphic designer for Brown University’s Health department, designing public health campaigns for the student body and larger community of Providence, R.I. She is particularly excited about the intersection of cognitive science and design, as well as creating graphics and apps in the public interest.

Animated gifs. Vines. Looping interactive graphics - There have never been so many ways to use endless, repeating sequences to present ideas, explain processes, and just capture moments in time. Loops to demonstrate chance and probability. Loops to expose the inner workings of an elaborate piece of machinery. Loops that follow stages and life cycles and transformations.

Why do loops work so well as explanatory tools? Where are they used most effectively – and where do they fail? And most of all, why are they so addictive? In this talk, Lena will explore the science and design behind our obsession with everything loops.

12:30 - 1:30


1:30 - 2:15

Nicolas Garcia Belmonte

WebGL for Graphics and Data Visualization

Nicolas Belmonte is Staff Data Scientist and Technical Lead for Data Visualization at Twitter. Nicolas leads Twitter Interactive, a platform that delivers public-facing data visualizations around verticals like News, Government, Sports and TV in collaboration with Twitter's Comms and Media teams. Prior to joining Twitter, Nicolas created several open source frameworks for advanced data visualization, like the JavaScript Infovis Toolkit and PhiloGL, that were used by organizations like Mozilla, Google, the White House and Twitter. Today his interests range from advanced techniques in graphics to investigative journalism.

Unlike other web standards for graphics, WebGL lets you process and render millions of elements in a web application in real time. WebGL’s strongest feature is the control it gives the user to offload computations to the GPU. In this talk Nicolas will give an introduction to WebGL & GLSL by explaining how WebGL works behind the scenes (the rendering pipeline), and will give examples of how WebGL fits the data visualization process not only for real-time exploration of massive datasets, but also for physics simulations and data art/illustration.

2:15 - 3:00

Marcin Ignac

Feeding Polygons with Data

Marcin Ignac is a polish computational designer living in London, UK. He runs Variable.io a studio blending design, software and the aesthetics emerging from data, processes and human behavior.

How does one explore the data space to uncover its multidimensional surface? What tools help analyze these systems as transparent organisms fed by live data and offer an experience that remains clear and understandable? In this talk, Marcin will show his work, focusing on the tools that facilitate it. He will introduce Pex, the WebGL library he has developed, discuss how it compares to other relevant libraries (like three.js) and introduce his node.js workflow for development, deployment and sharing of projects.

3:00 - 3:30

Nigel Holmes

Using humor to inform

Born in England, Nigel Holmes studied illustration at the Royal College of Art in London and then freelanced for magazines and newspapers for 12 years in London before going to New York in 1978 to work for Time Magazine. He became graphics director and stayed there for 16 years.

At Time, his pictorial explanations of complex subjects gained him many imitators and a few academic enemies who thought he was trivializing information. But he remains committed to the power of pictures and humor to help readers understand otherwise abstract numbers and difficult scientific concepts.

He’s written eight books on aspects of information design. The latest is Instant Expert.

With his son Rowland, Holmes makes short animated films.

Nigel has always believed that if you can get readers to smile, you are more than halfway to getting them to read on, and stay with a given subject, even though it may be a complex subject they know nothing about (and may not even be that interested in). In this talk, Nigel will show some work that misses and hits the mark: where gentle use of humor humanizes the data, or makes it relevant to the reader/user.

3:30 - 4:00


4:00 - 4:45

Jono Brandel

The Human Side to being a Digital Practitioner

Jono Brandel relies on the combination of two fundamental disciplines: graphic design and computer programming. The results of this mixture vary in form, but usually have a screen-based component. He explores procedural aesthetics.

Jono is an artist working within the digital format and the author of several popular tools and libraries, such as Two.js. Through his diverse set of work, he will reveal an in-progress holistic approach to developing ideas and expressing oneself in a browser and on the internet. Wether it's deploying your HTML5 website as a native application, deciding between an existing library and a self-written one, or generating documentation of interactive work this space is littered with questions and full of opportunity.

4:45 - 5:30

Andy Woodruff

Blindfolded Cartography

Andy is a web cartographer. He is a Development Lead at Axis Maps where he currently the Development Lead. He maps all things Boston at Bostonography and is a board member of NACIS, the National American Cartographic Information Society.

Principles of cartographic design teach us to make careful decisions based on the particular data being mapped: choosing the right map projection, symbolization technique, classification, and colors, to name a few. Web cartography introduces a new challenge - designing interactive maps that can handle unknown data. From exploratory tools to maps that enable users to bring their own data, when a cartographer is flying blind, how can effective design be achieved and good performance maintained?

In this talk Andy will lay out guidelines and examples for designing and building effective and attractive web maps (and some other visualizations) around unknown data, identifying compromises, defaults, and clever technologies that get us closer to traditional cartographic perfectionism. Andy will discuss challenges such as: supporting and classifying varied data distributions, handling missing or bad data and errors, working with multiple scales and geographic extents, inspecting work when it's infeasible or impossible to look at the whole map, and finding a balance between the restraints of good design and giving users freedom to explore.

5:30 - 6:00

Robert Kosara

Storytelling and Data: Why? How? When?

Robert Kosara is Research Scientist at Tableau Research. Before he joined Tableau in 2012, he was a professor of computer science at UNC Charlotte. Robert has created visualization techniques like Parallel Sets and performed research into the perceptual and cognitive basics of visualization. Recently, his research has focused on how to communicate data using tools from visualization, and how storytelling can be adapted to incorporate data, interaction, and visualization.

What good is all that analytical data visualization if we're unable to communicate our insights and findings to decision-makers? What do we do all this work for if not to present our results, and present them well? Humans have told stories for many thousands of years, and there are elements of storytelling that can be used for more effective and interesting data presentations. Don't be put off by the current hype around the term, there are real, useful lessons to be learned.

In this talk, Robert will give an overview of what storytelling means in the context of data, talk about research in this space and offer some practical advice. Robert will guide us through examples from news media, relevant bits of classic storytelling, comic theory and results from neuroscience that show how our brain responds to well-presented stories.

Tuesday, April 7th
8:00 - 9:00


9:00 - 9:15

Santiago Ortiz


Santiago Ortiz is a data scientist and information visualization researcher specialized in exploratory information visualization, knowledge maps and visual data science.

He uses his background in mathematics and complexity sciences to push the boundaries of information visualization, data analysis and data-based communication. In 2005 he co-founded Bestiario (Barcelona), the first company in Europe devoted to interactive information visualization. He currently leads Moebio Labs, a small team of data scientists and designers that helps organizations extracting value from data.

9:45 - 10:15

Hannah Fairfield

The Power of the Reveal

Hannah Fairfield is a senior graphics editor at The New York Times. She joined the NYT graphics team in 2000, departed in 2010 to be the graphics director at The Washington Post, and then returned to the Times to manage enterprise projects. She received two master's degrees from Columbia University, in geochemistry and journalism, and taught at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism for 6 years. Snow Fall — an immersive multimedia project that she helped to produce — won a Pulitzer and a Peabody Award in 2012. Most recently, she won a Loeb Award for business journalism with her colleagues in the graphics department.

We spend our days acquiring data and desperately trying to find clarity in it. We build stuff that looks terrible. Or fails completely. Or makes the data even more opaque and confusing than it first appeared. But the reason we do it is for the moon shot: the certainty that if we keep at it, we begin to see some signals, some new patterns in the visual analysis. We try another metric, run another version, start over on the visualization. And if we are determined, and lucky, and have very good editors — we can use visualization to reveal the data’s most important and essential themes. In this talk, Hannah will discuss the strength of the reveal.

10:15 - 10:45


10:45 - 11:30

Ilya Boyandin

Interactive DataVis with React: Taming the Complexity of the Changing State

Ilya Boyandin is a data visualization engineer at Interactive Things where he works on web-based data visualizations for various clients. He completed visualization studies at the University of Fribourg and has acquired many years of experience as a software engineer specializing in data analysis, user interface and web development.

The urge to support interactivity in modern visualizations introduces many challenges for developers. Ensuring that changes in state are always treated correctly and the data representations are consistent often requires a lot of debugging, because of intricate dependencies and complex data flows.

In this talk, Ilya will discuss how the use of React, Flux and immutable data structures can facilitate a simple and efficient approach to managing and rendering changing application state. He will demonstrate using React together with D3 through examples and code.

11:30 - 12:00

Alyson Hurt

Data Visualization on a Deadline

Alyson Hurt is a graphics editor on NPR’s Visuals team, an interdisciplinary group of photographers, designers and developers in the NPR newsroom. With the motto “Work in Public,” the team open-sources most of its code on GitHub. Alyson previously worked at the Washington Post and the Arizona Republic, and is an alum of Arizona State and Georgetown universities.

Over time the NPR Visuals Team developed a workflow and a set of tools to help build quick-turnaround, small-scale graphics (such as charts, data tables, interactive visualizations). In this talk, Alyson will discuss some of their tools, like using Google Spreadsheets as a mini-CMS, creating templates for frequently-reused code, designing responsively, and working with (and around) ones' CMS.

12:00 - 12:30

Lane Harrison

User-Centered Visualization Research

Lane Harrison is a postdoc in the Visual Analytics Lab @ Tufts University (VALT). Before joining VALT, Lane received his Ph.D. in computer science from UNC-Charlotte, where he worked in the Charlotte Visualization Center. Lane has also spent several summers developing cyber security visualization systems for U.S. National Labs.

Decades of research and practice has yielded a wealth of techniques and technologies for visualizing data. Yet we currently lack a theory by which we can navigate this growing design space. Questions like "which chart is best for representing correlation?" or "when should I bin a scatterplot?" sound simple enough, but answering them requires us to advance the science of visualization. In this talk, Lane will highlight fundamental design choices for which we have little guidance, and share how visualization research is leveraging the strengths and limitations of our perceptual and cognitive abilities to answer them.

12:30 - 1:30


1:30 - 2:15

Dominikus Baur

Weighing performance against pain: SVG, Canvas and WebGL

Dominikus Baur is a Data Visualization & Mobile Interaction Designer from Munich, Germany. He loves crafting well-behaved systems where you won't even notice that thin interface between you and your data.

He blogs about touchable visualizations, data visualization in general and mobile and touch-based interaction design.

Data visualization developers have three main graphics technologies at their disposal: the convenient and slow(ish) SVG, the flexible but verbose Canvas and the highly performant but unwieldy WebGL. In this talk, Dominikus will present an overview of the differences between SVG, Canvas and WebGL, how to optimize performance for each of them and how to create data visualizations using the novel WebGL.

2:15 - 2:45

Danyel Fisher

Why Exploring Big Data Is Hard (and What We Can Do About It)

Danyel is a Researcher at Microsoft Research; his work centers on information and data visualization. He is interested in how users can make use of visualization to better make sense of their data. His projects have worked with professional data analysts, with end-users, and with people who just happen to have had a lot of information dumped in their laps. His background is in human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work.

Exploring data freely lets you find unexpected patterns and shapes -- but it's hard to explore really big datasets. It takes a lot of computing, network, and disk power to squeeze a few trillion records into a million pixels quickly enough to see anything interesting. There are a lot of approaches out there, from throwing bigger clusters at the problem, to indexing more aggressively. In this talk, Danyel is going to discuss several different approaches to big data visualization that will allow data scientists to more freely explore and analyze unwieldy data.

2:45 - 3:15

Adam Perer

What is the role of visualization in prediction?

Adam Perer is a Research Scientist at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center in New York, where he is a member of the Healthcare Analytics Research Group. His research in visualization and human-computer interaction focuses on the design of novel visual analytics systems. This work has been published at premier venues in visualization, human-computer interaction, and medical informatics (IEEE InfoVis, IEEE VAST, ACM CHI, ACM CSCW, ACM IUI, AMIA). He holds Ph.D. and masters degrees in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a B.S. in Computer Science from Case Western Reserve University.

Many visualization practitioners tend to focus on developing techniques and systems to support the analysis of datasets. However, there are a growing number of data scientists and consumers interested in more than just interpreting their data: they want to understand their data and the predictive probabilities associated with them. Providing visual support for this kind of task has become important as many existing applications and stories on the market and in scientific settings need to solve problems that are predictive in nature, e.g., prediction of customer behavior, diseases, and drug effectiveness. In this talk, Adam will describe a typical predictive modeling pipeline, and describe how informative visualizations can assist in all steps of the pipeline and result in more comprehensible predictive models.

3:15 - 3:45


3:45 - 4:15

Val Head

Motion Design with CSS

Val Head is a designer who rocks web animation. She wrote the CSS Animations Pocket Guide teaches CSS Animation on lynda.com, and hosts the All The Right Moves screencast. You can find her on stage speaking at events like An Event Apart and encouraging others to do the same as the co-host of the Ladies in Tech podcast. She also leads workshops around the world on interface animation for the web.

Animation is a powerful way to convey meaning and guide tasks both for interfaces and presenting data. Conveniently, our old friend CSS has seriously stepped up its animation game! In this session, Val will cover key animation principles and how to pull them off with CSS. Val will show you the highlights of animating with CSS and combining CSS and SVGs. Plus, which web animation options work best for common interaction and tasks.

4:15 - 5:00

Cameron Beccario

Building Earth: an animated map of global weather

Cameron Beccario is a software engineer originally from Iowa but now living in Tokyo, as one does. He works at Indeed, where he helps people get jobs. Previously, he was manager of the core services team at TradingScreen, a global trading platform, and an engineer at Microsoft on the Visual Basic .NET compiler team. He received his bachelor's degree from Iowa State University in computer engineering. In his spare time he has turned into somewhat of a weather enthusiast, much to the surprise of this biographer.

Earth is a cheap to run, fast to use, interactive visualization of public domain weather data. Initially started as a fun project to learn JavaScript, Earth quickly evolved into an effort to make weather visualizations accessible, beautiful, and scalable. Launched with a tweet in December 2013, the site received 1.5 million unique users in its first month at an operational cost of $11. In this talk, Cameron will discuss the technology behind Earth, the sourcing and processing of the data, and its reception in communities around the world.


APR 6-7 2015
Presented by Bocoup

If you experience any trouble purchasing tickets, please try purchasing them at our dedicated checkout page or get in touch for assistance.

All tickets are non-refundable, but are transferable until the day of the conference. You can transfer the ticket directly using the link you receive when you purchased it, or contact us for help.


Calderwood Pavilion

At the Boston Center for the Arts

527 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116


Sponsoring OpenVis Conf is a great way to enrich your company's connection to the data visualization community. In addition to traditional opportunities, our sponsorships are oriented largely around bringing groups to attend and participate in OpenVis Conf. Whether you're looking to send (or grow!) your team, promote your product, or just help us throw a great conference, we'd love to have you on board.

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Bocoup believes that everyone deserves a thoroughly pleasant conference experience, regardless of who they are. We adhere to the Bocoup Code of Conduct and expect that all of our speakers, attendees, and volunteers will do the same.