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Visual Intelligence: Microsoft Tools and Techniques for Visualizing Data

ISBN: 978-1-118-38803-7
432 pages
April 2013
Visual Intelligence: Microsoft Tools and Techniques for Visualizing Data (1118388038) cover image

Go beyond design concepts and learn to build state-of-the-art visualizations

The visualization experts at Microsoft's Pragmatic Works have created a full-color, step-by-step guide to building specific types of visualizations. The book thoroughly covers the Microsoft toolset for data analysis and visualization, including Excel, and explores best practices for choosing a data visualization design, selecting tools from the Microsoft stack, and building a dynamic data visualization from start to finish. You'll examine different types of visualizations, their strengths and weaknesses, and when to use each one.

  • Data visualization tools unlock the stories within the data, enabling you to present it in a way that is useful for making business decisions
  • This full-color guide introduces data visualization design concepts, then explains the various Microsoft tools used to store and display data
  • Features a detailed discussion of various classes of visualizations, their uses, and the appropriate tools for each
  • Includes practical implementations of various visualizations and best practices for using them
  • Covers out-of-the-box Microsoft tools, custom-developed illustrations and implementations, and code examples

Visual Intelligence: Microsoft Tools and Techniques for Visualizing Data arms you with best practices and the knowledge to choose and build dynamic data visualizations.

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Introduction xxiii

Part I Introduction to Data Visualization 1

1 Fundamentals of Visualization 3

Data Visualization versus Artistic Visualization  4

The Place of Infographics 7

Using 3D Effectively 7

The Illusion of Depth 8

Additional Dimensions 9

A Description of the Problem and a Proposed Solution  10

Summary  11

2 Designing a Visualization 13

Goals of Visualization 13

Human Perceptual Abilities 15

Strategic, Tactical, and Operational Views 18

Glance and Go versus Data Exploration 21

Using Color in Visualizations 23

Use of Perspective and Shape  28

Summary  31

Part II Microsoft’s Toolset for Visualizing Data 33

3 The Microsoft Toolset 35

A Brief History  35

Database Tools 40

The Place of Each Front-End Tool  44

Installing the Sample Databases 46

Summary  51

4 Building Data Sets to Support Visualization 53

What Data Sets Are 53

Why We Need Them  53

How Data Sets Are Created 54

Why Data Sets Are Important  54

Common Data Set Elements 54

Data Quality 55

Metadata 55

Formatting  56

Data Volume 56

Automated Data 57

Types of Data Sets and Sources 57

Data in the Internet Age  58

Spreadsheets  58

When to Store Data in a Spreadsheet 58

SQL Tables 59

OLAP and Tabular Models 60

Reports and Data Feeds 60

Hadoop and Other Nonrelational Sources 61

Creating Data Sets for Visualization 62

Copy and Paste  62

Exporting Data from Systems  62

Import Techniques and Tools 62

Getting Started  63

Your First Data Set  63

Your First Data Set  63

Getting Data 64

Cleaning Your Data  65

Moving Your Data into a Good Format for Visualization 66

Verifying Your Data by Prototyping 67

Summary  68

5 Excel and PowerPivot 69

What are Excel and PowerPivot? 69

PowerPivot versus BISM versus Analysis Services 69

Column Stores  73

Multidimensional versus In Memory Models 75

Creating Your First PowerPivot Model 75

Step 1: Understand Your Data  76

Step 2: Create Your First Model  76

Step 3: Does Your Model Work? 81

What Does Excel Do for Me? 82

Pivot Charts and Tables  82

Summary  86

6 Power View 87

What Is Power View?  87

BISM: The First Requirement for Power View  90

Creating a Power View Report 91

Creating a Data Source  91

Creating a New Power View Report in Excel  91

Enhancing Data Models for Power View 97

Cleaning Up Your Data Model 97

Adding Metadata for Power View  98

Sharing Power View Reports 100

Publish in SharePoint  101

Exporting to PowerPoint  103

Installing the Power View Samples 103

Summary  104

7 PerformancePoint 105

Tabular versus Multidimensional Sources  105

Requirements for Running PerformancePoint 106

SharePoint Requirements  106

Authentication Issues when Using Secure Store Service  108

KPIs, Scorecards, Filters, Reports, and Dashboards 110

Creating a Data Source  110

Mapping the Time Dimension 112

KPIs 118

Scorecards 120

Filters 121

Analytic Reports  122

Dashboards 123

Combining Visualizations in PerformancePoint 124

Embedding an SSRS Report  125

Embedding Excel Reports  125

Creating Web Part Pages in SharePoint  126

Adding Web Parts 127

PerformancePoint Connections 128

Installing the PerformancePoint Samples  130

Summary  132

8 Reporting Services 133

Native versus Integrated Mode  133

Native Mode 134

SharePoint Integrated Mode  134

Shared and Embedded Data Sources  136

Authentication: A Better Solution 137

The Double Hop Problem  138

Set Execution Context: Requirements and Setup 138

Expressions in Reporting Services  140

Business Intelligence Development Studio and

Visual Studio versus Report Builder  141

Installing the Reporting Services Samples 145

Summary  146

9 Custom Code 147

Silverlight, WPF, XAML, and HTML5  147

The Future of Silverlight 150

Accessing Data from HTML5 151

Installing the HTML5 samples  152

A Web Service Sample in C# 154

Summary  167

Part III Visual Analytics in Practice 169

10 Scorecards and Indicators 171

A Quick Understanding: Glance and Go 172

KPIs 172

Drill Down 173

Drill Through  174

Drill Across 174

Tool Choices, with Examples 175

PerformancePoint 175

Excel 177

Implementation Examples 179

Implementing a Scorecard in Excel  179

PerformancePoint Services (PPS) Scorecard: Traffic Lights  182

Custom Indicators in PerformancePoint  187

Summary  189

11 Timelines 191

Types of Temporal Analysis Visualization 192

Timelines  194

Line Charts  195

Bar and Column Charts  197

Combined Charting 198

Scatter Plots and Bubble Charts 199

Tiling  200

Animation  201

Tool Choices, with Examples 202

PerformancePoint Services (PPS)  202

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)  205

Excel 208

Power View  210

Implementation Examples 214

Power View Animated Scatter Plot  214

Combining Lines and Columns in Excel 218

A Drillable Line Chart in PPS  222

A Data-Driven Timeline Using SSRS and Data Bars  223

Summary  226

12 Comparison Visuals 227

Overview of Point-in-Time Comparisons  227

Explaining Perspective and Perceiving Comparisons  229

Pie Charts Versus Bar Charts  230

Bullet Charts 231

Radar Charts  232

Matrices  233

Custom Comparisons  236

Tool Choices, with Examples 237

PerformancePoint Services  237

SSRS  238

Excel 238

Power View  240

HTML5 241

Implementation Examples 242

PerformancePoint: Column Graphs 242

Excel: Multiple Axes and Scale Breaks  244

Excel: Radar Charts  252

SSRS: A Bullet Chart 254

HTML5 261

Summary  267

13 Slice and Dice: Ad Hoc Analytics 269

Explanation of Terms 270

Self-Service BI 270

The Place of PowerPivot 271

Definitions 272

Tool Choices with Examples  278

PerformancePoint: Analytic Charts  278

PerformancePoint: Drill Across  280

Excel Pivot Tables  281

SSRS Drill Down and Drill Through  282

Power View  283

Implementation Examples 284

SSRS: Dynamic Measures 284

Integrating PPS and SSRS on a Single Page  290

Power View: Exploring Data 295

Summary  298

14 Relationship Analysis 299

Visualizing Relationships: Nodes, Trees, and Leaves  299

Network Maps  301

Color Wheel 302

Tree Structures: Organization Charts and Other Hierarchies 305

Strategy Maps  306

Tool Choices  307

PPS Decomposition Tree  307

Excel and NodeXL 308

PerformancePoint Services (PPS) Strategy Maps  309

HTML5 Structure Maps 310

Implementation Examples 311

Building an Organization Chart in PerformancePoint 311

Building a Network Map in HTML5  316

Color Wheel in HTML5  317

Summary  320

15 Embedded Visualizations 321

Tabular Data: Adding Visual Acuity  322

Embedded Charts: Sparklines and Bars 323

Conditional Formatting 325

Indicators 326

Bullet Graphs  327

Tool Choices with Examples  329

Excel 329

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)  330

PerformancePoint 331

Implementation Examples 331

Embedding Visualizations on a Pivot Table  331

Summary  339

16 Other Visualizations 341

Traditional Infographics  341

Periodic Tables 342

Swim Lanes 344

Transportation Maps  344

Mind Maps 347

Venn Diagram 347

CAD Drawings  348

3D Modeling 349

Funnels  349

Flow Diagrams 350

Geographic Information System Maps  352

Heatmaps 355

Summary  355

A Choosing a Microsoft Tool 357

Strengths and Weaknesses of Each Tool  357

PerformancePoint 357

Reporting Services  358

Excel/Excel Services  359

Power View  360

HTML5 361

Matching a Visualization to a Tool  362

B DAX Function Reference 369

Date and Time Functions 369

Filter Functions  371

Information Functions 372

Lookup Functions 373

Parent-Child Functions  373

Logical Functions  374

Text Functions  375

Statistical Functions 378

Math and Trig Functions 379

Time Intelligence Functions  381

Index  385

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Mark Stacey founded Pragmatic Works South Africa (a company specializing in data management and presentation) and Aphelion Software (software for visualization). He has developed visualizations for major corporations and the South African government. Joe Salvatore is a Business Intelligence Architect with Pragmatic Works. He has been a database architect, business intelligence developer, and application developer for more than 15 years. Adam Jorgensen is President of Pragmatic Works, Director at Large for the Professional Association of SQL Server, and a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. He regularly speaks at industry events.

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