2011 Top Data Apps: Salaries, Prisons, Public Schools

It was a big year for Trib data apps. As 2011 comes to a close, we have compiled a list of the 10 most-visited data apps on the Tribune site since Jan. 1.

We evaluated data apps a little differently than stories. The popularity is based not just on relevancy, but on longevity, and the list below is made up of many apps that consistently find their way back into the minds (and tweets, and Facebook shares) of our readers.

Two of 2010's massive data apps come in first and second: the Public Employee Salary Database and the Texas Prison Inmates Database. Our Public Employee Salary Database has been a reader favorite in the past, and in 2011 it continued to reign supreme with nearly 20 million pageviews, making it the most popular feature on the site overall. The database received four major updates this year, and with each one the app saw another wave of attention.

This year's two large data projects are also on the list, with the Texas Public Schools Database coming in third and the Texas Campaign Finance Database coming in seventh. Although those apps didn't launch until the second half of the year, both racked up sizable pageview totals. They might just join the other two large-scale databases at the top of the pile going into 2012.

The rest of the list is made up of interactives and visualizations that revolved around the major political issues and events of 2011. An update of a previous app tracking 2010's school rankings, the searchable data app of Texas School Rankings for 2011, came in fourth.

The Legislature's efforts to decide the methodology behind cutting school district funds proved to be very popular, and the combined pageview totals of our multiple apps to track the school district finance proposals as they evolved put the interactive at fifth.

With the release of numbers from the 2010 U.S. Census, we created a number of apps that examine different facets of the data. None have been as popular as our very first visualization, which simply tracked the county-by-county population by race and Hispanic origin.

Two of the final three apps on the list received attention due to the historic drought and damaging wildfires the state battled this year. Our interactive map of cities at risk of running out of water and map of wildfires and burn bans across the state accompanied stories that focused on the state's plight.

No top 10 list at the Tribune is complete without an appearance of Gov. Rick Perry, who made a number of appearances in the this year's most read stories of 2011. Back in September, the Tribune built a visualization of all executions (at the time) that had been conducted on Perry's watch.

Here's the full list of the top 10 most-viewed data apps of 2011:

1. Government Employee Salary Database — 19,186,667 pageviews

2. Texas Prison Inmates Database — 5,017,990 pageviews

3. Texas Public Schools Database — 81,863 pageviews

4. Search: Texas School Rankings 2011 — 56,768 pageviews

5. Interactive: Projected School District Finance Proposal — 25,586 pageviews

6. Census 2010 Interactive Map: Texas Population by Race, Hispanic Origin — 19,965 pageviews

7. Texas Campaign Finance Database — 19,193 pageviews

8. Interactive Map: Texas Cities at Risk of Running Out of Water — 14,502 pageviews

9. Visualization: Executions on Rick Perry's Watch — 12,600 pageviews

10. Interactive Map: Wildfires, Burn Bans Across Texas — 11,257 pageviews

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