Business Objects has released a free, lightweight version of its spreadsheet visualization software Crystal Xcelsius. Called CX NOW, it’s a Windows desktop application that connects with Excel, Powerpoint and Word to offer an interface for creating dynamic graphs and charts based on spreadsheet data.
The best thing about the software is that it lets you use GUIs like sliders and dials to change a particular field in the spreadsheet and both your spreadsheet and visualization change in real time along with the slider.
We threw up a quick and dirty example below; visualizations like this can be embedded in Word files, PowerPoint slides and on the web. Once it’s set free on the web, the visualization obviously no longer changes the .xls file, but it does when both are on your desktop.
The company has a well made screencast demonstration that’s worth checking out. There’s a fair amount of creativity made possible and the company is holding a contest that will award $10,000 to the creator of the best visualization with its tools.
The full Crystal Xcelsius software is far more powerful but CX NOW is a fun, fast and free way to create some slick little presentations.