KX Product Insights: KX for Space – Walk this Way

16 May 2019 | 4 minutes

by Declan Fallon

For this month’s post, we are going to work with week 18 #MakeoverMonday challenge data from data.world[1] to demonstrate the Playback component.   The data covered the 216 Russian and American spacewalks at the International Space Station since December 1998.


We start with a few header Text components; one to show the data.world logo, a second for the descriptive text and a third to represent a view state parameter which stores the selected date from the data.

KX Dashboard, Header Text Components - KX


Data World Logo

The Text component can be used to display images in addition to text. In the Text editor, import an image.

KX Dashboard, Text Component - KX

KX Dashboard, Data.World Logo - KX

The height of the image can be adjusted using the HTML editor of the Text component.

KX Dashboard, Text Editor - KX

Display a View State Parameter in a Text Component

This can simply be achieved by assigning the Date, view state parameter to Formatted Text of the Text component.  Then setting Font Size to 30.

Configure Playback component

Playback allows us to view the story in our data over time by defining the time (or numeric/event series) information column from our data source to a mapped view state parameter, in this case Date, and then storing the updated view state parameter value over the course of the playback. The updating Date view state can then be used by other queries and components in the dashboard.

KX Dashboard, Configure Playback Component - KX

Playback Component - KX

At the query level, we pull the distinct values of Date from our data.

KX Dashboard, Query Level, Pulling Distinct Values of Date from Data Source - KX

Adding the Visuals

Next we will add three Canvas Chart components and use playback to populate the charts with data as the years roll by.

Adding the Visuals to KX Dashboard, Three Canvas Chart Components and Playback to Populate the Charts with Data - KX

Starting with the large bubble chart (“Canvas Chart 1”) on the left, we will have a set of bubbles; each bubble will be numbered by sequence of spacewalk order, and color coded red for a Russian and blue for an American spacewalk.

The duration of the spacewalk can be used to define the bubble size (as well as its use along the y-axis)

KX Dashboard's Axes - KX

At the query level, we want to return all data before the Date view state value set by the Playback component.

Querying Data Using KX Dashboard - KX

We can then use two Highlight rules to color code the bubbles (the base color of the bubble won’t matter in this regard and can be left unchanged); using a text search of the column we can differentiate between Russian and American spacewalks. A white border provides stronger contrast and offers better definition of the bubbles.

KX Dashboard, Configuring Highlight Rules - KX

One of the newer features in our Canvas Chart component is Labels. Here we can assign a text label to appear inside the bubble. We assign the data source column name to the Handlebar.js template. In this case the sequenced Mission Number when each spacewalk occurred.

KX Dashboard Text Basics - KX

We can run the playback to check how the canvas chart populates with data

KX Dashboard, Running Playback to Check how the Canvas Chart Populates with Data - KX

Extra detail can be provided with a custom tooltip. Rolling over an individual bubble will offer additional details on the spacewalk.

KX Dashboard's Custom Tooltip and Individual Bubble - KX


KX Dashboard's Template Editor - KX

The second Canvas Chart is a straightforward comparison of time spent spacewalking between Russian and US missioned astronauts using the pivot query to sum the time spent.

Pivot Query to Sum the Time Spent by Country - KX


Querying Data Using KX Dashboard - KX

KX Dashboard, Select View State - KX

The third Canvas Chart also uses a pivot query, but with the breakdown categorized by spacewalker rather than country.

Canvas Chart Displaying Pivot Query - KX

The three charts will update as the data is played through by date, as illustrated below:

Spacewalk Data Visualisation Using KX Dashboard - KX

What does the data say?


  • American spacewalk missions lasted considerably longer and were more frequent than Russian spacewalks, although more recent spacewalks by Russian cosmonauts have matched those of their American counterparts.
  • Michael Lopez-Alegria clocked the most spacewalk time at 4,060 minutes, closely followed by Peggy Whitson’s 3,621 minutes.
  • Yury Usachev recorded the shortest spacewalk of just 19 minutes, but was his seventh spacewalk overall, the prior six occurring on the Mir space station.

[1] https://data.world/makeovermonday

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