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Posts: 32
Reply with quote  #1 

Although I see the power of simplicity of the sparkline concept, I wonder whether the following ideas could be improvements.

  1. The sparkline chart doesn't show the y-value and this makes it difficult to sense how strong the trend is (i.e., when the pattern is not flat).
    Idea: add horizontal lines through the highest and lowest points and show the associated values. 
  2. In particular cases grey lanes could be added to show "good/average/bad", "out of specs", "out of budget range" (like the grey areas in the bullet graphs).
  3. The timeline is not always clear.  I suggest to add "0" (M,wk,Y,d) at the end (showing "now") and counting backwards the number of units covered by the sparkline (e.g., -12M, -2Y, -30d, -13wk) along the x-axis. 

These suggestions barely consume extra space, and improve ease of interpretation I gather.  So are they worth further consideration for dashboards, where sparklines are particular useful?






Posts: 853
Reply with quote  #2 

Edward Tufte's new book, Beautiful Evidence, should be available any day now. He has dedicated an entire chapter to sparklines, which he invented. You might want to take a look at his treatment of the topic. I believe you'll find that he addresses your concerns and advocates similar approaches to those you suggested to give a hint of scale, etc.


Stephen Few
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