Software and other tools

Firefox and Chrome

Some of the tools we will use are add-ons to Firefox or Chrome. Ensure that you have the latest versions. Download Firefox, or update to the latest version following these instructions. Download Chrome from here.

Table2Clipboard and DownThemAll!

Two handy Firefox add-ons, which will help you extract data from the web. Install them in Firefox here and here.

A tool for scraping data from the web, without the need to write code. Download here. You will also need to sign up for an account at the Sign up link on the home page.


Another web scraping tool. Download the desktop app from here, and install the Google Chrome extension, which is needed to scrape from the browser.

Open Refine

A powerful tool for data cleaning, once owned by Google, now open source. Download the latest version from here. When launched, Open Refine will work in your default web browser; note that your data remains on your computer, and is not uploaded to the web. If you have issues installing Open Refine on a Mac, you may need to reset your security settings to allow the installation of third-party applications, see here. If you still have problems, try installing Java 6 for OS X from here. If Open Refine does not open in your default browser when launched, copy this address into the browser:

SQLite Manager

We will manage SQLite databases using this Firefox add-on. Install in Firefox from here. There is no need to separately install SQLite.

LibreOffice Calc

Open-source spreadsheet application, part of wider office productivity suite. Download LibreOffice.


Your go-to resource for color schemes to encode data. Web app: no installation required.


A sophisticated cloud-based mapping application that also functions as a geospatial database, allowing you to analyze and process geodata. Sign up here for a free account.

Tableau Public

Visualization software designed for exploratory graphic analysis, which also allows you to create interactive online graphics without JavaScript coding. Download here. You will also need to sign up for a free Tableau Public account.

The Public version of the software requires you to save your visualizations to the open web. However, members of Investigative Reporters and Editors can obtain a license for the Professional version, which allows you to save workbooks on your machine. In any case, I strongly recommend that students join IRE as a student member: it is a leader for training in data journalism.

GPG Suite for Mac or GP4Win for Windows

Download and install this software to encrypt your emails.

Thunderbird and its Enigmail plugin for encryption.

Download Thunderbird from here.

To install Enigmail, select Tools>Add-ons from the top menu in Thunderbird, search for Enigmail using the box at top right, and then click Install. After installing Enigmail, restart Thunderbird to activate it.