In my last post I had a bit of a moan about the lack of new data visualisation features in PerformancePoint Services but to be fair MSFT have really turned up the dial on the data visualisation functionality with the release of Excel 2007 and SSRS 2008. SQL 2008 R2 sees further advances with features such as Sparklines, Data Bars and indicators being far easier to create in SSRS. There’s still a few things missing from the stack though when compared against some of the pureplay visualisation vendors such as Tableau and Spotfire.
Icon Charts (I’m not actually sure that’s their real name!) are another form of Tufte’s “small multiple” that combines the concepts of lattice/trellis charts and heatmaps. This type of visualisation utilises the user’s perception of colour (hue) and form (size) to allow analysis of multiple categories with multiple quantitative measures.
I was hoping that it might be possible to do something with the new indicators in R2 and though you can use custom images there’s no simple way to hook them up to the data in terms of size and colour.
In this solution (workaround/hack?) I’m using the matrix object again but rather than using an inline chart I’m simply using a square symbol (letter n) from the wingdings font and then setting the colour (with a sequential palette) and size according to the data. My example uses hard-coded values in a switch statement in the expression but you could be cleverer than this and make the values percentages of the maximum in your dataset for example.
Add a couple of legends so that the viewer can clearly see what they are looking at. It’s easy to pick out that SouthWest in Q3 had good revenue but low profit. Is there a Problem? Add a drillthrough to detail report to allow the user to find out.
As always the sample report can be downloaded from here. Alternatively, e-mail devteam(at)adatis(dot)co(dot)uk for a copy.
We’ve been lucky enough (or we rather hassled enough people in MSFT for long enough!) to have been participating in the Office 2010 technical preview for the last couple of months but as it’s all been under NDA haven’t been able to blog about it. This also means that we’ve had a chance to look round SharePoint 2010 and, in particular for me, PerformancePoint Services. Nick Barclay has just done a series of posts about what’s new/improved/different in the new version so go there for the full list. Here’s a quick round up of our first impressions:
What looks good so far:
- SharePoint integration – Whilst Dashboard designer is still pretty much the same product for doing your, errr, dashboard design it’s no longer the admin and security tool as well. This is all carried in SharePoint and in fact you have to set up a specific PPS site to do this. A great deal of effort has obviously gone into this and which looks to have paid off.
- Security is all through SharePoint – no need to set up permissions twice!
- AS Conditional formatting now works.
- Decomp tree is back!!
- Measures can now be formatted independently.
- Workspace browser is now much more intelligently organised.
- Filter by value – you can now restrict rows\columns by value
- Dynamic dimension measures on scorecards- this was a bit of a workaround in 2007 as I’ve posted about previously. This now works properly
- Re-usable filters – Filters can now be shared and re-used across dashboards
- Lack of improvements for data visualisation – Very disappointing - other than the decomp tree, the visualisation side of PPS has changed little. Still no real control over how your graphs look. The only other new item to be introduced is the Pie Chart!!!! oh dear. Still no bar charts (and I mean Bars not Columns), no chart formatting options or (controllable) second y axis options that I can see :(
- Decomp tree is not a chart type but a right click option from a deployed report. i Like the option to do this from any point in a report but would be nice to have both options.
- It’s still called PerformancePoint! – I have to admit I when I read another blog of Nick’s following the demise of Planning I didn’t entirely agree with him that it should be renamed. Having spent the last ten months trying to explain to various IT departments that PerformancePoint is not the devil and that the Monitoring side has not been affected (usually to no avail) has changed my opinion completely.
- As per Chris’s blog – ProClarity just seems to have disappeared – I know that was never what Monitoring was supposed to be but the lack of an ad-hoc cube browser is a huge oversight.
- Did I mention the lack of data visualisation improvements????
There’s lots more to discuss and there will be more to come over the next few weeks time allowing. SharePoint 2010 looks pretty impressive…