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Posts: 21
Reply with quote  #1 
I am interested in creating wind barbs. This is a type of vector plot which requires direction and magnitude. Here's an example of wind bard: http://driftwood.unl.edu/farmsmart/products/meteogram.php (2nd panel)
I have searched around many of the recommended BI software on this forum and others but none of them currently have anything like that (even Tableau). Does anyone know BI software or excel add-on that can do this type of plot? Thank you in advance for any feedback.

Posts: 802
Reply with quote  #2 
I'm not familiar offhand with a general purpose data visualization tool that supports the use of wind barbs. It's such a specialized form of display, it probably wouldn't make sense for a general purpose tool to include it. Additional functionality to some degree always results in additional complexity, which should be avoided unless the function is needed by more than a few. I can see, however, that wind barbs could be incredibly useful for data such as yours. It might be possible to build this functionality into a data visualization tool using one that provides a high degree of programmability--perhaps a tool such as R or SAS-Graph.

Stephen Few

Posts: 21
Reply with quote  #3 
Thank you for your input. There are specialized software that support plotting of flow vector and/or wind bard. It's true that SAS, R, IDL, etc. can do such plotting but they do not have the interactive feature that I prefer to have in a BI software. I agree that this type of plotting (i.e. wind barb) is very specialized to folks in the scientific community (specially meteorology, environmental sciencies, earth science, geology, hydrology, etc.).
On a side note, I think many people would like to see BI software support vector flow plot. Many disciplinary in science would appreciate this move.


Posts: 245
Reply with quote  #4 
Here's a small example of a custom SAS/Graph gplot (scatter plot, with "tails" annotated onto the plot markers, to show wind direction at the time of that data point).  When you hover your mouse over the plot markers, you can see more detailed data (and a 'drilldown' could be easily added, if there was something to drilldown to).


Here's a static snapshot/image (to get the hover-text you'll need to view the html version above)...

Hirricane Isabel Data


Posts: 60
Reply with quote  #5 
SAS really is the swiss army knife of BI software, especially in the hands of a pro like Dr. Allison. Nice work.

Posts: 21
Reply with quote  #6 
Thank you everyone for your input.
Unfortunately, I don't know enough scripting or programming to really make good use of the full potential of SAS or something similar to IDL.
I am looking for a software that allows users to import/connect to data and generate visualizations in the software using GUI. In addition, I want the interactive features that allow users to:
- scroll through different date or date range on graphs;
- synchronize time between graphs and allow graphs to scroll using naviation buttons similar to fast forward/backward buttons;
- select (continuous as well as discrete) data within graph and filter and/or export for further analysis;
- ability to 'zoom' to different portion of the graph (similar to panning across one day/week/month etc. worth of data at a time).
I was able to tested these features (except for time synchronization) with Tableau and I was very excited initially. But then I realized that it doesn't support vector plot. Perhaps one day ... someone may be able to 'hack' Tableau (or similar BI software) to help me out :) or perhaps Tableau just decide to support this type of plot.
Thanks again for all your input!

Posts: 245
Reply with quote  #7 
Sometimes, in a "niche" area like this, with a very small/limited number of potential users, there just isn't enough demand (and potential sales) for a software company to provide a full-fledged point-and-click GUI that does all the specific things you want.  As an alternative, some provide the flexibility to 'roll-your-own', but you have to be pretty good with programming to go that route.

I would recommend looking in "trade magazines" that cater to your area of study - and maybe journals or conference proceedings or Internet forums specifically for that area.  Maybe you'll find a small software company, or someone who has written something as a grad-school project or 'hobby', that has the capabilities you're looking for.
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