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InfiniteJoy

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Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #31 

Okay, yeah, that makes a lot of sense - especially if you have multiple bullets like that.

I just found out that my single chart suggestion works in principle, but there are some unacceptable anomalies.  For example, there are thin lines between the bars I couldn't get rid of here.



Interesting approach you've got to the sparklines.  I actually just changed my Y-axis scale (which I would set dynamically anyhow to have full control over it).  So, my data ranged from 91-100, and I think I set the scale to 10x centered around whatever my data range was.  That way it would always take up the same space no matter what the data was.



InfiniteJoy

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Reply with quote  #32 
So, maybe to change the theme of this discussion - can we make a collective list of what we think BusObj needs to change in order to make Xcelsius a visualization tool that would satisfy?

Although we can reproduce much of Stephen's sample dashboards, we really are missing a lot. 

For example, we'd need to make sure your bar charts were physically arranged from highest to lowest.  Xcelsius can somewhat support that but is totally dependent on Excel to manage the ranking and sorting of the data and label text.

And as you mentioned we have to adjust the target line manually.  I work in the realm of real-time "live" dashboards that reflect manufacturing, so I definitely need the ability to set the target dynamically.

Other issues and desires off the top of my head (beside the ones you all have mentioned here):
* Excel is frequently hosed up because of the hidden sessions left open after Xcelsius is run
* Lack of support for some very useful Excel functions.  I would love to have SLOPE, INTERCEPT, TREND, and RSQ (R-squared).  I agree on getpivotdata too.
* Secondary Y-axis for charts
* Full-background alerts on meter bars, not just at the edge
* Setting chart/bar/marker colors based on a cell value
* A tab strip to make multiple pages easier, and even setting the tab color, visibility, and order based on a cell value
* Easy to rollout Xcelsius developer app across a corporation with standard skin/theme/templates in place
* URL drill-down on components without having to lay a transparent url button over everything - this allows me to drill to standard corporate reports from each item
* Tables where all gridlines and shading can be removed
* A ticker that was geared specifically for text, perhaps via RSS feed (similar to cable news tickers)
* Getting rid of lots of buggy behavior overall that makes me less productive


Mindjon

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Reply with quote  #33 
Chris,

You could always use an xy overlay with triangle symbols instead of the individual horizontal lines.  It's a bit of a compromise, but if you need to have control over the target values, it works.

John

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Martin

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Reply with quote  #34 
It's interesting to see the results you guys are getting but I reckon you can get just about the same results directly in Excel (with workarounds obviously) so why use Xcelsius if you're not after the 'glitz' it offers? No offence intended :-)
InfiniteJoy

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Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #35 
I mainly enjoy Xcelsius for the ability to have Live dashboards that automatically update every few seconds via web service calls.  Also, the ability to publish those live dashboards to the web or powerpoint shows.  Both are important in the manufacturing world where real-time decisions need to be made on the plant floor.

I do use Excel too when appropriate for our needs.  Often, that can be enough.

No offense taken.
Martin

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Reply with quote  #36 
Ah ok, I can imagine that sort of thing is easier to do in Xcelsius than in Excel. As you probably guessed I'm not an Xcelsius user (I've only tried the demo once) so that's why I asked :-)

I'm curious though; are those live Xcelsius dashboards you mentioned still 'connected' to Excel sheets or do they get their data directly from a database?
InfiniteJoy

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Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #37 
The dashboards make calls directly to the web service(s) that provide the XML map to Excel.  So Excel is completely out of the picture once you publish the dashboard.

We use a product called IncuityEMI (Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence) that connects to every database in our company (150+).  This product also provides a web service layer that goes against any of those data sources. 
rtenkley

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Reply with quote  #38 
I just read the three pages of this discussion thread, and realizing this thread is old, maybe no one cares anymore.

Anyway, I really like a lot of the ideas explored here, I have been doing similar work-arounds in Xcelsius the past two months. While I do agree with Chris that part of the ability to get great results is an effective control of the toolset, I also agree with Stephen that much of these graphs were never intended to work as we have all gotten them to.

My main reason for posting here is to see if others have had problems using these advanced work-arounds in a live webquery situation with complex Excel functions running in the back end. Many of my dashboards are dynamic and allow the user to select employees, choose various features etc, and have the graphs update to reflect the changes. Since the graphs are looking at a static range for their data, my cells us a lot of vlookups, offsets, etc to dynamically grab data based on user inputs. This has led to quite a number of failed attempts because Xcelsius seems to not perform all my calculations in sequence the way you see it happening in the designer mode. When I publish the .swf file and hook it up to my custom webservice some of my components will fail and I spend weeks figuring out a work around for the particular bug de jour.

anyone else have this trouble?
AMcClean

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Reply with quote  #39 

I ran into a lot of similar problems to you when using the vlookups to control dynamic data. I switched to using SourceData component instead (in Xcelsius 2008). This allows you to copy the contents of a row from a set of columns to a destination column based on an column index. This removed the need for a lot of VLookups

Mindjon

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Reply with quote  #40 

Wow, over 2 years since I last posted to this thread.  Anyway, I'm still using Xcelsius 4.5 Pro and never bothered to upgrade to Xcelsius 2008.  However, I may just make the jump after seeing what SP3 includes.  Some nice new features but check these out (they even mention Stephen Few by name).

John

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sfew

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Reply with quote  #41 
Mindjon,

I wouldn't be too eager to get the new version of Xcelsius if this is the best it can do. Both the bullet graphs and the sparklines shown above are poorly designed. Notice how difficult it is to interpret the values represented on the bullet graphs and the way that the sparklines seem to intrude on one another (that is, they're inadequately delineated). And, to add insult to injury, they misspelled my name.

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Stephen Few
Mindjon

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Reply with quote  #42 
Stephen,

LOL about them misspelling your name.  It reflects poorly on a company that should be focussed on details. 

I did notice that the sparklines and bullet graphs were poorly implemented.  I'm hoping they include the ability to configure them properly (not holding my breath, but who knows).  They have a trial version that I'll check out.  I'm not sure if it includes the new features, but I'll report back when I find out.

John
Mindjon

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Reply with quote  #43 
Stephen,

Ok, I finally got around to downloading the trial version of Xcelsius 2008.  The sparklines and bullet charts weren't included so I had to search for and download Service Pack 3.  Once I did that, the sparklines and bullet charts were added as chart types that I could pull to the canvas and configure.  Without any configuration, the charts and sparklines looked similar to what I posted a few weeks ago; HOWEVER...everything is completely configurable and it's very easy to do.

First of all, this version has a theme that wasn't included in the 4.5 version called iTheme (who comes up with these theme names?) that pretty much sets everything to greyscale (but color can be added on anything).  To make a long story short, everything that I hoped was configurable was and much more. 

If you look back on this thread, you'll see I re-created one of your dashboards with Xcelsius (back in 2007).  It took me over 4 hours, and I got pretty close, but there were so many workarounds, layers, etc, that I would never have tried to put that into our production environment because the maintenance would have been a nightmare. 

With this new functionality, I can finally put your best practices to use with a tool that I'm familiar with and I bet I could recreate that same sales dashboard in about an hour, tops.

John

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sfew

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Reply with quote  #44 
John,

For the sake of folks like you who have invested time in learning Xcelsius, I'm thrilled that sparklines and bullet graphs are now easy to implement. This doesn't change my opinion of the tool in general, which, like many dashboard products, focuses on ineffective ways of displaying and interacting with data, but I'm glad that improvements are being made that are useful.

Steve

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Stephen Few
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