Today there are more tools than ever before to help with visualising data. Whether you are making a map, dashboard or animation there is a plethora of software for us to access. Some of this software is free and some is paid for. Some are very simple and intuitive to use whilst others are a little more complex. But whatever your budget or skill level there is something to suit everyone.

Which software you choose will depend on the type of visualisation you’re trying to make, what level of support you might need, what licences you might need to use the software and what data format you are working with.

Below we have categorised some of the most popular types of software for visualising geographic data. It is by no means an exhaustive list and we are happy to include anything you think we have missed. Please email with any amendments.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

GIS stands for Geographic Information System and is software that allows you to manage, analyse and display geographic data by blending the power of a map with the power of a database. If you have information about geographical objects which need displaying on a map, for the purpose of analysis and/or a data visualisation output, a GIS is a good place to start.

More information about using GIS software can be found here.

Here is a list of some available GIS software:

  • QGIS A free and open-source GIS.

  • Esri ArcGIS Pro Desktop GIS mapping software providing 2D, 3D and 4D mapping.

  • ESRI ArcGIS Online (AGOL) Web based mapping software that allows you to create and share interactive web maps.

  • Cadcorp SIS Desktop GIS that supports the creation and management of geographical information.

  • MapInfo Pro Complete desktop mapping GIS software solution.

Dashboards & Analytics

A dashboard allows you to visualise and interact with geographic information and data, displaying visualisations working alongside each other, together, on one screen. They are used for reporting, informing, and identifying patterns and trends.

Here is a list of some available dashboards:


Storymaps are web-driven narratives that can integrate maps, text, photos and videos allowing the user to navigate through a story via a range of interactive functionality.

Here is a list of some available storymaps:

Graphic Design

Graphic design, the art and profession of selecting and arranging visual elementsβ€”such as typography, images, symbols, and coloursβ€”to convey a message to an audience.

- Encyclopedia Britannica

Here is a list of some available graphic design tools:

  • Adobe Illustrator Graphic design tool for creating vector drawings, illustrations and artwork.

  • Adobe Photoshop Raster graphics editor used for image creation, graphic design and photo editing.

  • Corel Vector illustration, layout and photo editing toolbox.

  • Inkscape Free and open-source vector graphics editor.

  • Affinity Designer Vector graphics software.

Other mapping platforms and resources

  • Mapbox A live location platform that provides location intelligence, developer tools and customisable location data for embedding in websites and applications.

  • Maputnik An opensource visual editor for the Mapbox style specification. Mapbox GL styles define the visual appearance of a map, in JSON format.

  • 1Spatial Data management specialist providing a range of products and solutions.

  • FME Feature Manipulation Engine A powerful, no code, data manipulation software that is used to extract, transform and load.

Code-based solutions

If code is your thing, visualising your data is possible using a number of languages including JavaScript, Python and R. Many of these languages have packages which allow you to work with geospatial data.

A few good code libraries to start exploring data visualisations using code are listed below but there are many more out there:

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