‘A Eulogy for Dark Sky, a Data Visualization Masterpiece’
Srini Kadamati, a data visualizer, waxing eloquent on the virtues of the dearly departed Dark Sky app’s design:
But Dark Sky was much more than just an API or a set of “forecast technologies.” The design of the Dark Sky mobile application represented a hallmark of information design because the team clearly obsessed over how people would actually use the app on a daily basis.
The design of Dark Sky was so wonderful that I could understand the shape of the weather at a glance, even from a zoomed out view of the app.
On the innovative temperature pills that made understanding the gist of the forecast possible at a glance:
In the Dark Sky app, the “temperature pills” representing the forecasted temperatures for the upcoming week preserve their existing magnitude more effectively in the visualization. The temperature values are more tightly integrated with the visual representation, making the combined experience more amenable to quick comparison across multiple days.
Srini concludes with a plea for more contextual data experiences that draw on principles that guided the Dark Sky app:
Dark Sky started with publicly available data, augmented it with contextualized predictions, rigorously iterated on data visualization design, and packaged all of this into a contextualized experience to make weather data useful for me in my daily life.
While the availability of data has never been higher, we’re still missing software experiences that contextualize that data to make our lives better. Data alone isn’t enough.
Make sure you check out his article for the accompanying screenshots.
If you’re a recovering Dark Sky user like me, consider reading this post as “pouring one out” for the Dark Sky app. And to ease the pain, I’ll point you toward CARROT Weather, which introduced a “Dark Sky” layout as a way to welcome users like us. It faithfully recreates the day and week forecast layout that we relied on — with the artful, contextual shape of the weather — which Srini rightfully calls a “data visualization masterpiece”.