Our #IronViz collaboration that almost wasn’t

Our #IronViz collaboration that almost wasn’t

If you have followed us for any amount of time, you know Pooja and I like a challenge.

Recently, these challenges have beed adding up: #MakeoverMonday, #VizForSocialGood, #DearDuo, and #IronViz. Finding time for all these great projects can be a challenge in and of itself. We actually both had some conflicts this month and didn’t think we would even be able to participate this round. While feeling a bit of the #IronViz spirit, we both offered to review any entries the community needed another set of eyes on. We both reviewed and gave feedback on many vizzes this round and there are so many great one out there.  Why would any one want to compete on stage?  It seems like everyone is amazing now.

Then, June 25th arrived, the #IronViz deadline. Normally by now we’d both have already been done, written a blog, and been checking out the competition. Neither of us had even started searching for data. This Sunday started like every other, “Is the #MakeoverMonday data out?  What is it?”. The conversation naturally changed to #IronViz and then this idea…

We were both like is that allowed?  We read over the rules…a liberal interpretation might be it doesn’t specifically say it isn’t allowed.  I guess we will all find out.

So the joke started to become real.  “Ok, let’s start #IronViz on the due date, that seems like a good idea”.  Afterall, we only probably spent like 40 hours on the last entry, EACH.

The Inevitable Search for Data

We started searching for different data.  I started looking for shapefiles and Pooja started looking for interesting data sets.  The Conversation went something like this…I will let you guess who is who (it’s more fun that way).

“Has anyone done lions?”  

“No, I Don’t think so?”

“Crap, I can’t find any. Next.”

“What about giraffes?”

“Ha, how funny I am looking for giraffes.  The design would be really cool if we can find any data.  Did you find any?”

“Nope.  What about cobras?”


“That would be cool, looking anyway”


“Ok, haha, how about flesh-eating bacteria”

“We are not doing that…How about the data Tableau suggested?  OOh, let’s check out these mammal shapefiles…”

You get the idea. This goes on for like an hour without much success. Then…

“I once had a friend who went to Madagascar to study lemurs.  I remember torturing him with emails the week before he left.  I kept sending him the scariest stories I could find. I found this one story that said whatever you do, DO NOT go into any water and DEFINITELY DO NOT urinate.  There is some kind of worm that swims upstream…. What was the name of that thing?…”

“Oh my God, I found it. Wow, all kidding aside, this is really a huge issue.  This is like the second worst parasitic disease behind malaria.  It can be found in any fresh water and comes from snails and is like near invisible to the human eyes.  Let me see if I can find an image…”  

“That’s scary, but is there any data”

“I’m sure we can find something, let me check the CDC…nothing…google to the rescue…Boom…World Health Organization…”

“Yeah, but where is the data?”

“I’m trying to find it…relax…hahaha….ok got it…databank data for 2015”

“Oh, nice…let’s get it in Excel…Oh…grab more years”

This was probably the fastest data search either of us had done for #IronViz, still a few hours…

How the heck do you collab an IronViz?

We started with some Skype screen sharing after we both started on the data sets.  We focused on our strengths.  Pooja started exploring and cranking out charts.  I said let me look at the geospatial data and see if I can find some good images/statistics to incorporate.  After about 45 minutes, we had a good number of views put together.

Time to combine…

I sent my viz to Pooja.  I had made some corrections to the data.  She copied my map to her workbook and replaced her data source with mine.  Boom, everything was now combined.  The next part was Pooja working her magic to incorporate both of our work into one.  I patiently waited and looked on, giving some suggestions here and there, until we got to the map.  After a few minutes….

Ok let’s do a WebEx so you can pass me keyboard and mouse control

This worked great, we could quickly start and stop controlling the same machine. Pooja crushed the design as usual. It’s very #Poojatastic.  I started looking for additional stats to add to the story and read them to her like a senior citizen while she typed…

“No, not impacted, I said infected…”

“What, that’s what I have..”

“No, I-M-P-A-C-T-E-D….”

“Oh, Bahahaha 🤦‍♀️”

There were a lot of laughs along the way…

Finishing touches

After finalizing the design, Pooja passed the ball back to me via email. I started working on the tooltips and satisfying the dataviz OCD that we all have making sure things are floated just perfectly.  I was almost done, then…

“Oh, I just made the height 1900px, it looks better”

“What? 🤦  Everything is going to have to move”

“Leave it then”

“Let me try and just add the space…HOLY SHIT…

this is the first time that extending the dashboard worked the way I wanted…

“You know what would be nice, a video, but we don’t have any room…”

The inevitable publish/republish cycle…

We shifted things around and made room for the video, but it terminated harshly.  We created a PNG shape the float over the top right corner of the video to make it appear seamless.  This took a little work in Photoshop to get just right.  Then we had to publish the workbook near a dozen times to get the video ratio just right so there would be no letterboxing by YouTube. I quickly added some YouTube parameters to cleanup the video and to autoplay it.

Done. 10 hours from inception of the idea to publishing. Hopefully, Tableau will allow the entry.  If not, we had a blast anyway.

Click on the GIF below to launch the Interactive version.

2 thoughts on “Our #IronViz collaboration that almost wasn’t

  1. Excellent work guys!

    Short story, to the point, with flow and not to many artistic bells and whistles (which seems to be the rage these days)

    Even though I did not grow up in places like the video, I remember my mom warned us against that when I was a kid. One of those things you get scared of and never forget. Years later I was travelling and I remember that I saw/heard about it in the shores of Nile river in Egypt, where the water doesn’t flow that much.

    However, if i’m not mistaken, that’s not the parasite that climbs when you urinate. Or is it? (Now, THAT is super scary)

    1. Adam Crahen

      Thank you! You are right it isn’t that one. Candiru also known as cañero, toothpick fish, or vampire fish is that SUPER SCARY one! But that story got us to the topic!

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