by Cancan Gunadi
From time to time businesses are faced with the need to visualize their business data along the time dimension. It is very valuable for the businesses to have a way to visualize information such as milestones or key events in a meaningful way. This visualization answers questions such as “When was the last Sales Milestone achieved?”, “How do I see the progress of XYZ?”, or “What was the last step completed by a training class participant, and when?”
One way we have found to be both effective and engaging is to use a “timeline”. Timeline can be described as a sequence of related events arranged in chronological order and displayed along a line (usually drawn left to right or top to bottom). Data can be aggregrated though a nightly ETL job and key events be made available to be plotted on the timeline by the same job.
In our implementation, we used TimelineJS, an interactive web-based timeline tool, and integrated it into the system that we’re building for our client. The system itself is built using ZK Framework. I will write more about the technical detail of how this is done in my next blog.
Here’s an example of how the timeline visualization looks like. Please visit the actual live demo on our server here. (log on using the provided credential).
In this mock up example, we show the sales milestones on the timeline. This timeline is interactive, user can slide the timeline bar (bottom half of the timeline widget) with mouse to the left of right, or even swipe with his/her finger on a touch-screen. Clicking on each “flag/event” on the timeline brings up a related bar chart above the timeline bar. If the user needs more detail, he can click on the hyperlink next to the bar chart to open a new tab with all the detail regarding this milestones (See my next blog post for interesting technical detail about the interaction between the TimelineJS, the containing HTML inline frame, and the ZK Framework). User can also navigate to the previous milestone by using the arrow button to the left of the bar chart.
In a Nutshell
We have shown one of the ways to visualize business data along the time dimension in a meaningful and engaging way. Using this timeline, businesses can quickly see when a key event occured, time-wise, in relation to other/previous key events.
Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I will describe the technical detail on how to implement this timeline visualization using the TimelineJS, and ZK Framework.
Please also check out our main blog page where you find useful information regarding Data Management, Business Intelligence, and more (click here).