Training 7: Grammar of graphics - introduction

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Welcome to the “Grammar of Graphics” training!

In this introduction, I will walk you through the topics that will be covered in the training, so you will have a good idea what to expect. I will also explain the educational approach of the training and will give you all the practical information you need to follow and complete the training.

Educational approach

This training is set up to be a fully remote and asynchronous training.

A fully remote training means that the trainer and the participants do not meet physically during the training. Participants can follow the training from anywhere, as long as they have access to a computer and an internet connection.

An asynchronous training means that the trainer and the participants, apart from not sharing the same geographical space, are also separated in time. The training is set up in a way so that participants can follow the training at their own pace, and during the time that suits them best.

The training is not fully asynchronous, as you can tell from this live session: currently, we are in one of the few synchronous parts of the training. We will have a few more of these at the end of the training on Friday.

But most of the training will be asynchronous. The training is split up into modules, that you can follow in your own time and at your own pace. The training contains the following types of modules:

We will discuss the training schedule and the modules of this training later in this session. But each module has an estimate of the duration to complete the module. All together, the duration of all modules in the training amounts to 16 hours. The training runs from the start of this live session to the end of the closing session on Friday afternoon next week.

This means that participants have 10 working days to complete the modules of the training. They can schedule the modules at their own likings, but apart from the schedule of the live sessions, there are some deadlines to be met during the training (see further).

Grammar of Graphics?

In most visualisation tools, making a chart involves selecting a chart type from a gallery of chart templates, and putting in your data into the template. This way of producing graphics is very convenient: as a user, you have an overview of what types of charts are possible to make, and you don’t have to worry too much about how your data is used to construct the chart.

But this method also has some drawbacks. The main disadvantage is that you are limited to the templates the tool offers: if you would like to make a chart not offered by the tool, you are out of luck and you have to look for other solutions.

The Grammar of Graphics tries to solve this issue. Instead of chart templates, the Grammar offers a framework that breaks away from chart types, and helps you reason about how a chart can be built up from the data. Another advantage of the Grammar is that it becomes possible to describe exactly how a chart is constructed, independent from the tool that is used to render it.