Create animations like Hans Rosling!


They say "Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery"...

Therefore when I imitate Hans Rosling's famous world-data animation, it's not that I'm jealous, but that I'm paying homage to him!  (OK, and maybe also a little bit jealous! LOL)

Well, anyway, for those of you who haven't seen it, here is a link to one of Hans Rosling's famous Flash graph animations.  I invite you to have a look at it, and play around with it a bit. Below is an example of Hans doing a presentation with his animation:

You might be saying, "I wish we could do animations like that in SAS!"   Well, we can ... sort of!

Here's a link to the closest I could get, using SAS/Graph Proc Gplot, some annotation, and a gif animation (... and I just happened to use the new/improved SAS 9.4 gif animation syntax which makes creating animations a lot easier than it used to be!).  I think it looks a lot like Hans' animation.

Here is a snapshot of one frame of my SAS animation (to help lure you into clicking the link to see the real thing!)

Here are some advantages of my SAS version:

  • Most importantly, you can view a gif animation in any browser, including mobile safari on Apple iPhones/iPads!  (whereas a Flash animation is difficult/impossible to run on many devices)
  • The gif animation loads quicker than the Flash animation.
  • I keep the logarithmic axis simple, so (hopefully) it's more obvious it's a log axis.
  • I label all the large countries & outliers in the graph, so the user doesn't have to manually interact with the graph to see those country names.
  • I include the country/color legend in the graph area, rather than separately to the side.
  • I include the bubbles with income >$100,000 rather than omitting the values that would otherwise go off the side of the graph.
  • I use a light purple, rather than dark blue, for the African countries.  This color is more comparable (contrast-wise) to the other colors, and the dark text labels show up better against a lighter bubble.

If you'd like to see more animations (and their SAS code), check out the link to my animation samples library!

Food for thought ... what data would you like to see animated?


About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

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