Discussion


Note: Images may be inserted into your messages by uploading a file attachment (see "Manage Attachments"). Even though it doesn't appear when previewed, the image will appear at the end of your message once it is posted.
Register Latest Topics
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment   Page 2 of 3      Prev   1   2   3   Next
sfew

Moderator
Registered:
Posts: 838
Reply with quote  #16 
Chris,

Congratulations on managing to make the sparklines looks so good. Perhaps you should write a book titled Clever Workarounds for Xcelsius Dashboards. You could feature several well-designed dashboards in an attempt to counteract the host of silly examples that Business Objects features on its site and in its marketing literature.

__________________
Stephen Few
Mindjon

Registered:
Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #17 
Chris,

Very nice! Now you've got to share the details on how you accomplished this.  Let me know if you write that book.  I've got some pretty good gems myself that are definitely not covered in the user guide or in the only book out there on Xcelsius, Xcelsius for Dummies.  I use Xcelsius for dashboard and general chart/metrics creation and support 3 departments.  This will definitely come in handy.

Stephen,

You've got to be feeling pretty good about your message board leading to such a significant discovery, as far as using Xcelsius for data visualization goes, at least.  I for one, am pretty excited about this. 
Mindjon

Registered:
Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #18 

Also created in Xcelsius

Attached Images
Name: Bullet.jpg, Views: 1669, Size: 18.60 KB


InfiniteJoy

Registered:
Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #19 
Thanks guys.  I wouldn't call it discovery though.  And I wouldn't even call most of it workarounds. 

I really only just made my line chart small and set my y-axis appropriately and included a series for the target. 

The rest is pretty standard.  Make a couple red circles and set the rules to trigger their visibility.  Make a bar chart and add some shading and a target line.  And turn off all the stuff I don't like to see.

What kind of rules would you guys suggest for real sparklines?  How would you best control the y-axis?  Would you have it autoscale so that if a metric tanked recently it would show the step change, but then everything else would look relatively flat?  How does a user know how big the variation really is?  (Maybe that should be a new thread in another forum?  Moderators, feel free to move this question.)
camoesjo

Registered:
Posts: 32
Reply with quote  #20 
Chris
Let me also congratulate you for your job (I always thought that being stuck is the mother of invention...). I'll add a link in my posts to this discussion.

I'm curious: do you think Xcelsius (the current version) could replicate my dashboard? For example, is it possible to design population pyramids with connected dots, instead of bars? Or to remove markers in some series but not in others? What about Xcelsius limits regarding data management and support for Excel functions like getpivotdata?
nixnut

Registered:
Posts: 69
Reply with quote  #21 
InfiniteJoy,

You're doing a great job with xcelsius. Even if some call it tricks and workarounds it's still darn good work. Actually, concerning tricks and workarounds, I have yet to find an application that doesn't force me to find its limits and try to push them further than any documentation would indicate possible. One the one hand one could say that means the applications make things too hard, on the other hand you could say one should not accept any perceived limits of applications at face value.

Can you create your own skins btw? That would be a great way to realize the look and feel you want.
nixnut

Registered:
Posts: 69
Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sfew
Chris,
Congratulations on managing to make the sparklines looks so good. Perhaps you should write a book titled Clever Workarounds for Xcelsius Dashboards.

That sounds a bit sarcastic. Though maybe I misread your sentiments. I think InfiniteJoy is to be congratulated on his progress. That doesn't change the fact that xcelsius by default makes it very hard to create visualizations that are anywhere close to adhering to infoviz best practices. An article or a couple of howto's on the topic of getting the best out of xcelsius would be great. I would think you'd applaud such an effort. I think you should really. Instead I think I see a rather cynical response to Mindjons work. I hope I'm just misinterpreting your post.
sfew

Moderator
Registered:
Posts: 838
Reply with quote  #23 
Nixnut,

Yes, you have misinterpreted my comments. I sincerely congratulate InfiniteJoy (Chris) and Mindjon for what they've managed to accomplish with Xcelsius. My tongue-in-cheek suggestion about the book was meant to keep in perspective the fact that these accomplishments have little to do with Xcelsius and much to do with the ability of these talented fellows to produce good design from a tool that isn't particularly good and has been used, perhaps more than any other in the last couple of years, to promote really bad design.

I applaud effective design whenever I encounter it, regardless of the software that produced it. When people understand data visualization, it is often amazing what they can accomplish, even with limited limited and poorly designed tools. Most of the the examples of effective graph design that I've included in books and articles were produced using Excel. I use Excel intentionally to demonstrate that the limitations of a tool can often be overcome if you know what you're doing and are creative.

I do not, however, want to be guilty of giving poorly designed tools credit that they don't deserve. I want to keep the pressure on vendors to design the kind of software that people really need. Neither Excel nor Xcelsius come close to doing this.

__________________
Stephen Few
InfiniteJoy

Registered:
Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #24 
You guys are all right - Xcelsius definitely leaves a lot to be desired when you know what you are after.  Ideally, I wouldn't have to think in order to do well.

My main point in starting this thread, as the title says, was that glitz can definitely be reduced in Xcelsius (because I saw claims here saying that it couldn't be done).

Jorge,

No, Xcelsius definitely cannot recreate your pyramid chart without resorting to bars (and negative signs!).  And no way to have hollow shapes rather than filled shapes either.  And no way to selectively turn markers on/off.  Also, nothing for getpivotdata. 


Nixnut,

No. No support for creating your own skins today.  That changes this year with the introduction of an SDK (for those who create in Flash).  Developer's will be able to create components with any appearance they desire.

I agree with you that we should push applications to their limit in order to get the most out of them.  But, this group is right that Xcelsius' limits have been much too constraining so far when it comes to applying good design.  I plan to keep calling BusObj until they address it (I am fortunate to have a meeting with them next week).

Stephen,

I suspect that there are enough readers of your e-mail using Xcelsius, and that you'd do them a great service by pointing out that they can do much better than the default behavior if that tool is their only option.
Mindjon

Registered:
Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #25 
I managed to create this in Xcelsius after being inspired from our discussions of the last couple of days.

Total creation time: About 4 hours, although I spent an hour toying around with creating different bullet charts, sparklines, etc. before even attempting this, which gave me a little bit of a head start.  On the other hand, much of the creation time went towards typing in data into excel that approximated what I saw on existing Wine Sales Dashboards (My Information Dashboard Design book is at work so I had to find some copies of this particular dashboard on line, essentially making mine a copy of a copy). 

If I were implementing this dashboard, the only manual updating I would ever need to worry about, would be to the vertical target lines since those are simply dragged and dropped into place.  Everything else would be data driven.

John

Attached Images
Name: SalesDashboard.jpg, Views: 2642, Size: 114.55 KB


InfiniteJoy

Registered:
Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #26 
Way to run with it John...it's totally doable, isn't it...would you describe it as workarounds or just being smart with the toolset?  Of course, some aspects could be made easier still by Xcelsius...

So, how about the good/satisfactory/poor shading of the bullet graphs?  Dynamic?

I completely understand everything except for making that portion dynamic.
Mindjon

Registered:
Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #27 
Chris,

Based on the fact that these are not selections that are built in, it's obvious that this is not how Business Objects imagined their tools to be used. However, Xcelsius does provide a fair amount of control over it's components.  Complete control? No, but enough that if you combine good use of those controls with some creativity, you can do a lot.  So to answer your question, I think it's a combination of "being smart with the tool set" AND workarounds (or creatively expanding the use of the tool beyond it's expected use, or whatever you want to call it).

Good/Satisfactory/Poor shading is dynamic.  It's a stacked bar chart behind a regular bar chart :)

Also, I'm not sure if I did the sparklines the same way you did.  Originally, I removed everything but the line.  You mentioned something about the Y-axis so after trying a few things, what I did was turn on the label for the Y-axis and changed the font size to 60.  Then I just changed the font color to white.  Worked perfectly.  Is this how you're doing them?

If you look at the sales dashboard, the sparklines are all on the left side.  The Y-axis labels are out of view, so in this case, the font color didn't even matter.

John
InfiniteJoy

Registered:
Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #28 
Oh, maybe I've got it too now - did you just use the stacked bar graph with three stacked bars and then set the Bar Gap to '0'?  (Similar to the way we can make bullet graphs in Excel a la Charles Kyd.)

I can see how that would work.
InfiniteJoy

Registered:
Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #29 
Hey, you're still up tonight too...good timing there.

I think you could even use a single stacked bar chart if your first series was the black bar and the other series were the ranges of shading.

So your data source for the chart could look something like this:

   
MetricPoorSatisfactoryGood
0651520
850015
0651520


I'm going to try this before turning in tonight.
Mindjon

Registered:
Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #30 
Chris,

I think you've got it now, but just to make sure, this should help you visualize it.  One bar chart, with 7 bars.  One stacked bar chart, with 7 bars, each with 3 segments.  I leave both scales showing so I can get the positioning right.  You don't notice there are 2 when they're set right.

John

Attached Images
Name: BulletExample.jpg, Views: 1692, Size: 8.21 KB


Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.