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Charts and dashboards

Overview

A chart is a visual depiction of a section of data, e.g., in the form of a vertical or horizontal bar chart, a line chart or a pie chart. For convenience, we loosely speak of a key performance indicator (KPI) and a pivot table as charts.

A dashboard is a collection of charts, KPIs, and pivot tables laid out on a page. Typically, you would aggregate a collection of related charts on a dashboard. For example, a service dashboard might include charts and KPIs showing Cases, Product information and related tasks, while a fund-raising dashboard might include charts showing donations or designations.

Charts

The chart editor enables creating and editing charts. It is available via the Reporting tools - Charts menu in Apsona.

Managing charts

When you click the Reporting tools - Charts menu, you will see an Apsona console view of available charts. It contains a list of available charts on the left, and clicking any one of the items in the list displays the details of that chart on the right. With this console view, you can view your available charts, find a specific chart via its filtering feature, or rename or delete charts. Clicking the Edit button in the detail area of a chart opens the chart editor, using which you can edit a chart. Click the Add button at the top to open the chart editor for creating a new chart.

Charts: console view

The chart editor

Creating and editing charts

Broadly speaking, when creating a chart, we must specify A chart depicts the way in which a specific measure, or metric value, varies according to a certain dimension. For example, in the bar chart below showing designation totals by campaign, the dimension is the list of campaign names, and the measure is the designation total. Here is a short demo video illustrating how to create a pie chart.

Chart types

Within the chart editor, click one of the chart type buttons to select the type of chart you want. The horizontal and vertical bar charts and the line chart also support upto three metric values in the same chart, provided that the data types of those metrics are the same. For example, you can create a horizontal bar chart that uses the Opportunity stage as dimension, and the total and maximum opportunity values as well as the total expected opportunity value as metrics. Below is an example of such a chart with two metric values and one dimension.

Data sources

The data source selector shows a list of available data sources from which you can select one. A data source can be any Salesforce native or custom object, any Apsona single-step report, or any Apsona multi-step report. (You will need a license for multi-step reports to use one as a data source.) Once you select a data source, the fields of that data source are available for use as dimensions and metrics for your charts. More specifically:

Filtering

You can also apply filter terms on the the records returned by the data source, and when you do so, only the filtered list of records will be used by the chart. Note that, if you are using a report as data source, any filter you apply in the chart is additional to the filter that might already have been applied in the report.

Dimension fields

Dimension field values are used as the vertical axis values for a horizontal bar chart, and as horizontal axis values for a vertical bar chart or line chart. When you click the "Add" button above the axis values area of the chart, a dimension picker appears, listing the fields available as dimensions. The screen shot at right shows an example of a dimension picker. Dimension values can be:

Metric fields

The values of the metric field determine plot values of the chart, e.g., the lengths of the bar chart, or the angle of the pie chart. Metric values can be any of the following:

Renaming your fields

Once you have added a field to the chart, you can change its name by simply clicking on it, as in the screen shot below. When you rename a field, the updated field name is used for the row or column labels of the chart where the field is used.

Some examples

For example, suppose you have created an Opportunity report that produces the Campaign name, Campaign budget, and the total amount of Open opportunities. You can now create a chart whose dimension is the campaign name, and which uses two metrics: the value of the campaign budget and the sum of the values of the opportunity amounts. The result shows a comparison of campaign budgets with open opportunity revenues, thus enabling you to monitor your revenues compared with your spending. Below are two screen shots showing the chart and the corresponding report data source.

Layers

One common use case for charts is to be able to compare similar-looking data from different data sources, in an effort to look for patterns. For example, suppose you suspect that there is a relationship between opportunities from partner accounts, languishing in a "Needs Analysis" stage, and the case creation rate from partner accounts. So you want to compare the Opportunity totals of "Needs Analysis" opportunities, by quarter, over the last year, with the numbers of cases created, by quarter, from partner accounts. The key difficulty here is that the two data sets being compared – cases and opportunities – have no common relationship your Salesforce database.

This is an example of a situation where the idea of chart layers is useful. For some charts – specifically, bar charts and line charts – you can create more than one "layer." Each layer includes its own data source, dimension and metric fields, and filters. When rendering the chart, the bars or lines produced by each layer are overlaid onto the same chart area, so that you can compare all of the charts together. The layers do not need to have anything in common, except that: The chart editor lets you add new layers to a chart, and specify the data source, dimension and metric fields and filters for the new layer. To add a new layer, click the "Add layer" button at the bottom of the chart properties panel - see the screen shot below.

Pivot tables

Pivot tables are commonly used for summarizing and visualizing data. As a simple example, you can use raw opportunity data containing the name, stage, type and amount, and create a pivot table that shows total amounts by type and stage. More commonly, pivot tables are used in to group data along multiple dimensions, and calculate summary values for dimension set.

Apsona Charting treats the pivot table just like any other chart, in the sense that it can be created from any of the data sources, and can be embedded in a dashboard. The screen shot below shows an example of a pivot table illustrating some of the capabilities that Apsona Charting offers.

Notice the following.

Dashboards

Dashboards are created and managed via the dashboard editor, available via the Apsona menu Reporting tools - Dashboards. Clicking this menu brings up a console view of your available dashboards, so you can find available dashboards, delete them, add new ones or edit existing ones.

To edit a dashboard, click the Edit button in its detail panel to show the dashboard editor. To create a new dashboard, click the Add button in the dashboard list toolbar. The dashboard editor appears.

A tour of the dashboard editor

Here is a short tour of the dashboard editor.

Sharing charts between dashboards

Viewing a dashboard

Dashboards are available for viewing via the "My dashboards" menu. You can determine whether or not to show a particular dashboard in this menu via the "Hide from Main Menu" checkbox. To do this, navigate to Reporting Tools - Dashboards and click the dashboard you wish to change. Then, in the Dashboard details panel on the right, check the "Hide from Main Menu" checkbox if you wish to hide the dashboard from the main menu bar. See screen shot below.

When viewing a dashboard, a toolbar offers functions for filtering the dashboard's contents, printing its contents, and taking a snapshot.

Dashboard snapshots

The "Snapshot" menu is intended to capture the current state of the dashboard as a snapshot. The menu enables downloading a snapshot (as an HTML file), copying a link to the snapshot so that you can share it with others, or emailing the snapshot as an attachment.

If you select the Email menu item, a popup window appears via which you can email the snapshot, with a subject and a list of recipient email addresses, as below.

Dashboards as Visualforce pages

As an administrator, you can create a Visualforce page containing a dashboard, so that the dashboard can be shown either as a home page component or a related list.

Dashboard on the home page

You can embed an Apsona dashboard in a home page layout, so that it appears on the main Salesforce home page of users who use that layout. To do this:
  1. Create a stand-alone Visualforce page for the dashboard, using the steps outlined below.
  2. Create a home page component using this Visualforce page, and add it to the home page layout in which you want it shown.

Dashboard as related list

A dashboard can also be used as a related list, but only if all the charts in the dashboard are based on the same object. For example, suppose you have an Opportunities dashboard containing a number of charts, all of which use as data source either the Opportunity object, or reports on the Opportunity object. You can then use that dashboard as a related list of any object to which the Opportunity object has a lookup, e.g., the Account object or the Campaign object. When you create such a "related list dashboard", the dashboard's contents as shown in the detail page of the parent object will be limited to just the records related to the parent record. You can use this feature, for example, to monitor all the opportunities of a particular account via a collection of visual elements rather than raw data.

To create such a related list, you simply create a Visualforce page for the dashboard as a related list, using the steps described below. The generated Visualforce page then becomes available for use in the layout of the parent object.

Creating a Visualforce page for a dashboard

  1. In Apsona, navigate to Settings - VF pages and buttons. This page can be used to generate code for Visualforce pages.
  2. Click the radio button that selects dashboard pages.
  3. Select whether you want a stand-alone page or a related list of some object.
  4. Click the Generate button.
  5. Copy the generated code and paste it into your Visualforce page.
Dashboards have their own custom links you can use to share with other users. To find a dashboard's link, click Settings - Apsona items, and find the dashboard's record. Click the dashboard's record in the list, and examine its "Direct link" field. The value of that field is the URL for the dashboard's link. You can, for instance, copy the URL and share it with other users.