Tableau Public is a great tool for creating maps and other types of charts. It is free, but requires a download and is limited to Windows computers only. Also, any maps you make will be public.
Pros: Tied to very rich data visualization features, connections to time are fairly easy, fantastic for both maps and other types of visualizations.
Cons: Requires software download, small learning curve, free version means everything is public. PC only
Reminder: Tableau Public is available for Windows only. If you have a Mac, CartoDB or Google Fusion Tables are good alternatives to Tableau Public. Also, since Tableau Public requires an install, you may not be able to use it on computers in labs or libraries.
Go to the Tableau Public home page and click DOWNLOAD in the upper-right. Follow the steps to download and install Tableau Public.
We also need to create an account. While installing, go back to the Tableau Public home page and click Login, which is the upper right corner of the screen. Follow the instructions to create a new account.
Once installed, open Tableau Public. You're now ready to begin the tutorials below.
For this tutorial, we're going to make a map of divorce rates by state.
1. Download the data set here. This data set is from infoplease.com, found through Google Tables search function.
2. Open Tableau Public (if you haven't installed it yet, follow the instructions in the "Getting Started" box). In the upper left hand corner of the screen, click Open Data, and then Text File (again in the top left). Navigate to the .csv file that you downloaded and select it. Look over the options (they should be correct by default), and then click OK.
3. You should be looking at a screen like this:
4. On the left side of the screen, various Dimensions and Measures are listed. Drag the State dimension to the Columns area on the top of the screen, and then drag one of the year measures to the Rows area. Finally, in the top right under the Show Me drop down menu, select Filled Map. The map should now look something like this:
The Tableau Public website has many tutorial videos here. Start with "Introduction to Tableau Public", which will introduce you to the basics. From there, you can either work your way down the page or pick the tutorials that are relevant to the type of visualization you want to create (e.g. "Maps - Dimensions and Measures" if you're making a map).
If you'd like a data set to experiment with, try using Google Fusion Tables search function.