Monday 3 December 2012

Point and click "Tableau-like" visuals in Mathematica

Tableau is a dominant software for data visualisation. Since about 2009 I have been suggesting Wolfram Research offer a Tableau-like interface for data visualisation. Tableau comes in many forms but includes a web plug-in and an iPad version. Some examples of the visuals can be found here.

As nice as the visuals are there doesn't seem to be anything that couldn't be built with Mathematica. The point lost on many seems to be that commercial users are time poor and do not want to be spending enormous time creating these things -- particularly when an off-the-shelf alternative like Tableau or Spotfire exists. Nevertheless, for the curious, some crude "Tableau-like" functionality can be put together fairly quickly.

Below is a video showing one such feature. The user (left) clicks on a point and a navigation box appears from which they can exclude the point, keep only the point or open a window showing all the data. This window with the data is very crude-- for this exercise I didn't see any point in styling it. Right clicking anywhere in the plot reverts to the original set of data. This sort of feature could be applied to bars, columns, lines and so on.

I didn't take any time to adjust the color function so you will see that as points are excluded the colours change. These sorts of things can easily be corrected. Additionally the navigation box can include functions which link to other coupled plots but for now that is as far as I have gone. I might have a go at making a complete Mathematica version of one of the Tableau examples one of these days.

The video is best viewed as full screen.

  And another video: