We spend a fair amount of time on data display and visualization projects at Google, and we have found that the "last mile" of these projects tend to become full projects in and of themselves.

Thus when we acquired Gapminder last year, we were excited by the opportunity to use Gapminder's powerful visualization techniques to bring new life and usefulness to Google datasets. And we were not alone -- the web is home to a vibrant community of developers who build amazing visualization applications.

With the community in mind, we're please to introduce the Google Visualization API, which is designed to make it easier for a wide audience to make use of advanced visualization technology, and do so in a way that makes it quick and easy to integrate with new visualizations.

There are a two key elements here: simplicity and ubiquity. We hope we nailed the first, but of course we want to hear your feedback on that. The second will take more time, but we hope we're on the right path. We're releasing this API at an early stage so we can get continuous feedback and be sure we're building it the right way.

This launch is in tandem and in cooperation with the Google Docs team, who just announced support for gadgets and the Visualization API in spreadsheets. This includes a set of gadgets created by Google and several other companies, including some that add pivoting, grouping, and other new functionality to your spreadsheets. You can see all of those in our 'featured' list within the visualization gallery, which includes the Gapminder Motion Chart that has proven especially popular among within Google.

We hope you're as excited about the Google Visualization API as we are -- please be sure to tell us what you think. We'll also be at Google I/O on May 28-29 for deeper discussions about the API or visualization techniques in general.