Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tips for Charting in Veera

Being able to collect and identify valuable data is important for making sound decisions to meet long-term goals, but collection and identification are only part of the process. Just as important is the ability to provide visual representations to transform your raw data into actionable information. This guide will help to create basic graphs in Veera and to improve them by making them more clear and eye-catching.

First and foremost, before you get started, you’ll need to identify what data you’d like to represent in your chart. You may need to whittle down your data so that it isn’t overwhelming but still fairly represents your population. For this purpose, you might consider using a Filter node to filter down to just the entries you’re truly interested in, or using a Cleanse node to create an “other” category to concatenate some of the smaller categories.

Once you have the dataset you’d like to use and have opened the chart node, your first step will be to select the chart type (pie chart, bar chart, etc.). Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to fill in all necessary fields on the right side of the Chart Data window, such as deciding which variables should be your x and y axes. Once everything has been labeled, you can edit the look of your chart by clicking on the colored icon in the top right of the window. 

As you begin to navigate through the Chart Style Editor window, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. The chart type does not automatically identify the chart type that was selected in the previous window – you’ll want to update this and select the appropriate chart type.

2. The sample chart you see on the right will update to reflect any changes you make in the chart editor. Use it to evaluate your aesthetic decisions as you go.

3. Below the sample chart you can choose whether or not to include data labels and adjust the font, size, style, color, and chart background.

4. When charting binary or categorical variables, you may not see a need to include a legend. If you select the ‘Legend’ tab and uncheck the ‘Display Legend’ box, you can remove the legend. If you do remove the legend, be sure the chart is labeled accurately in the first window.

5. If you’d like to make any of your charts 3D, you can do so by going to the ‘3D’ tab and checking the ‘Display in 3D’ box. There you can also change the inclination, depth, rotation, etc.

6. Once you’ve edited the background color and text color of your chart in (below the sample chart), you can choose a color palette for the rest of the chart by going to the ‘Color Palette’ tab. There you can select a pre-programmed palette or create your own custom palette.

7. One of the more subtle functions in the chart node is the ability to shade ranges within a chart – found in the ‘Axis’ tab. Here you can choose to assign colors to ranges within a chart to better visualize certain areas of interest in your data. This is especially nice when looking at retention rates or variables represented as percentages because the ranges are easy to define & interpret.

8. Another use of the ‘Axis’ tab is to help label your data. Too many times I’ve gone to chart my data but found that half my data points are unlabeled in my graph. Here, choose the axis that should contain those missing labels and unselect the ‘Auto Label’ box. Now under the ‘Major Tick Marks’ heading, unselect the ‘Auto Interval’ box and set the interval to be 1 to insert all missing data point labels. It should look something like this (note that I’ve chosen the y-axis):

9. Now that you know how to edit each chart individually, you might find that you like a particular style and want to save it to use later. You can do this within the Chart Node by clicking on the ‘…’ button next to the ‘Chart Style’ drop-down. Here, click the green plus button to add a new chart style – give it a name and you’ll find yourself in the ‘Chart Style Editor’ window. Once you’ve finished editing, you’ll be able to access your saved chart style within the Chart Node from the Chart Style drop-down menu.

10. Once you’ve created a chart type that you love, you can also export it to the Collaborative Cloud so that others can use it – if you have a minute, check out the cloud and search for chart styles for the opportunity to download styles that other users have created.

Do you have any tips for charting, or questions about how to use the charting node? Leave them in the comments below :)

Happy charting!

-by Jon MacMillan, Data Analyst at Rapid Insight

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