Here are some simple definitions and explanations of some of the terms used in Drawing by Numbers:


A “web-log” is a simple website for regularly publishing information and opinions, like an online diary.


The skills and art of making maps.


A common way of depicting numbers visually to show how they are distributed. Common types of chart include bar charts, pie charts and line graphs.


Software that you install on your computer that makes it possible for you to use a service provided over a network. For example, Mozilla Thunderbird is an email client that enables you to send and receive email.

Cloud computing

A system whereby the software applications and data you use run on computers housed in remote locations. Rather than install software or store data on your own computer, you use them through a web-browser or mobile phone. Google Docs is an example of a service based on cloud computing.


Working together on the same document, map or other content. Some online services enable this to be done online in real time, rather than step-by-step by sending the document by email.


The term is a play on the word 'Copyright' – it is a means to make a piece of work freely available and to require all modified versions to also be free.

Creative Commons

Licences enabling creators to retain some rights to their work whilst making them easier for users to use and adapt.


Public collaboration on a project; sourcing tasks traditionally performed by individuals to a crowd of people.

CSV file

Abbreviation of Comma-Separated Values - a text file that has commas after every value. Create a CSV file in order to import the information from one table into another table-oriented application.


Data can refer to two things. 1. A set of bits of information such as measurements or descriptive terms that are used to describe a fact or an occurrence. 2. The medium in which information is stored and used by computers. Data is exchanged between computers over a network.

Data processing

The ways in which a computer can work with data, such as creating, storing, updating and analysing it.

Data visualisation

A general term describing the technique of depicting data visually in order to understand it better.


A body of information stored in a structured way. Database software is used to ask the data questions (sometimes called 'querying') and present the answers in useful ways.


A collection of related data.


Articles, manuals and videos that provide instructions about how software tools and services work.


The process of including a bit of content made in one place in another. For example, a chart made using Many Eyes can be included as part of a web page you have made which means the map is then “embedded” on the web page.


A means by which data is converted into a code in order to prevent unauthorized access.


Saving your work in a different file format than the one it was created in so it can be used by other computer programs. For example, when making a graphic a designer might create it in SVG format and then export it to JPEG format for print, or PNG format for inclusion in a web page.


A useful way of getting an insight into a set of data by automatically counting the different pieces of data and showing them as categories.

File formats

The different ways that computer programs store data. For example, Word stores word processing documents in the DOC format whilst OpenOffice stores them in the ODT format.


A programming language created and distributed by Adobe Systems, which is used for adding moving images, sound and interactivity to webpages.


Abbreviation of Free/Libre/Open Source Software. Computer software for which the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under a software license that is in the public domain. This permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified forms.


The capabilities of a piece of software. For example, a useful function of Open Office Calc is the ability to make visual charts out of data.


A service to make a website available over the Internet.


A way of connecting to a website or Internet service using a connection which is encrypted and therefore more secure.


A way of moving data created in one software program into another.

Information design

The presentation of data and information in a way that best serves the need of users.


A quality of websites, online charts, diagrams and maps that they respond to viewers' requests. For examples, online maps that you can zoom in and out of, or tables of data that you can rearrange.


A programming language for creating software applications that run on your laptop or desktop computer, or within your Internet browser. Some of the tools profiled on this website, like Many Eyes, are made using Java.


A programming language used to make web pages interactive.


The uses which the creator of a work, or the holder of its copyright,permit others to make of work. For example, you could write a book and then license it to allow others to copy and share the content.


Combining two datasets that have data in common. For example, dataset 1 has names and dates of birth. Dataset 2 has names and addresses. Merging data means finding the same name in both datasets, and creating Dataset 3 that has names, dates of birth and addresses.


- is a record that consists of one or more fields that are links to other nodes and a data field. Large and complex data structures can be formed from groups of interlinked nodes.

Open data

Data that public bodies (like governments) create, publish and license with the effect of freeing it for use by anyone for any purpose.

Open source

A way of creating and releasing software in ways that allow others to share, adapt and improve it.


A set of online services that provide the ability to use and make different tools for whatever purpose. For example, Google is both a service and a platform.


A piece of extra software that adds to the functionality of your Internet Browser. Popular plugins enable you to watch movies and use websites made using Flash.


The ability to export the data you have entered into a program or online service and use it somewhere else.


A software function that enables you to ask a question about data.

Raster graphics

A technique for creating and displaying graphics that stores an image as coloured dots. Also known as Bitmaps. Common Raster graphics formats include BMP and TIFF.


Abbreviation of Really Simple Syndication. A technology for publishing summaries of material on the Internet that “pushes” content to readers. RSS is used for alerting readers to new content on a website.


A computer that provides a service – such as hosting a webpage or sending and receiving email – to other computers.


A computer program used to store and organise text and numbers in grids for the purpose of making calculations. Although spreadsheets are often used to manage financial and accounting information, they can be useful for a wide range of other structured data.


the practice of creating classifications of objects, places, people, events, ideas, information. A way of categorising these things to show how they are related.

Terms of Service

A legal document that forms a contract between the provider of a software, service or website and its users. Terms of Service define what users can expect from the service, what is acceptable use and who is responsible (or not) when things go wrong.


Abbreviation of Uniform Resource Locator – a unique address for a webpage.

Vector graphic

A graphics format which displays images by combining different sorts of shapes and lines. Vector graphics can be made bigger and smaller without any loss of quality. Common vector graphics formats include SVG and EPS.


A broad term used to describe a visual depiction of something.


A webpage that can be edited by its users.