RIP Fusion Tables: Google is killing off the beloved data visualization tool
Users of Google’s Fusion Tables, a kind of hybrid spreadsheet/database/data visualization tool that was never fully integrated into the Google Drive productivity suite, got an email Tuesday saying the service will be shutting down on December 3, 2019.
“Google Fusion Tables was launched almost nine years ago as a research project in Google Labs, later evolving into an experimental product,” according to the email. “For a long time, it was one of the few free tools for easily visualizing large datasets, especially on a map. Since then, Google has developed several alternatives, providing deeper experiences in more specialized domains.”
Fusion Tables was often used by journalists, scientists, and others interested in quickly plotting data on a Google Map without having to do any coding. Google encouraged users to switch to other products, like its BigQuery cloud data warehouse system, its Google Data Studio business intelligence tool, or simply Google Sheets. The company says it’s also working to make other mapping tools, currently used internally, available.
Users can export their existing data from Fusion Tables. They’ll also need to migrate any visualizations they have embedded on other websites to other tools or they will stop working when the product shuts down. That’s long been a frequent use case for Fusion Tables, so it’s likely interactive maps across the internet, created by people who have since moved on to other projects and organizations, will stop working next December.
The planned shutdown–or “turndown,” as Google referred to it in the email subject line–received some sad mentions from data visualization experts on Twitter.
R.I.P., Fusion Tables.
I think it’s linguistically interesting that Google has now launched and killed so many products that they’re now attempting to coin a kinder, gentler euphemism for “shut down”:
The “turndown”! pic.twitter.com/mJGiFWGJPF
— Jeremy Ashkenas (@jashkenas) December 11, 2018
Google Fusion Tables will be no more. This is the end of an era. It’s often the first tools budding data journalists learn to visualize and publish data-driven maps.https://t.co/tsilPHhADM
— Roberto Rocha (@robroc) December 11, 2018
I just got this email from @Google that Fusion Tables will disappear from the interwebs on December 3rd. This impacts some #publichistory projects I am involved with, and I’m sure it impacts others projects as well. #twitterstorians pic.twitter.com/mGefv75d0d
— Logan Camporeale (@thelocalhistory) December 11, 2018