Visualizing Tables

7 November 2019 | 3 minutes

by Declan Fallon

Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic highlights the importance of presenting data in a manner which best expresses what the data is saying.  Unfortunately, many don’t step beyond the standard tabulation, but with a little more effort, other options are available.  Kx Dashboards makes this process easy.

The October #SWDchallenge was to improve the following table:

Best Technology Award, AIM Awards 2018 - KX

We can start by applying improvement using existing Data Grid Property formats; for example, changing column names, applying numeric formats, standardizing the alignment and column widths. The Multi-Column Editor allows us to do this all at once, across columns.  With that, we quickly get to:

Data Grid in kdb - KX

With Highlight Rules, CSS and template formats, we can also do:

Highlighted Data Grid in kdb - KX

Kx Dashboards Highlight Rules are typically used to show a change in an underlying value, using a font color change or appearance of an up/down arrow to mark the update, but they can also be used to apply colored bars – mimicking a chart effect within a table – based on a selected column in the table.

But the best results come from visualizing the data with a chart.  Canvas Chart is the core charting application of Kx Dashboards and we can quickly change between views from a single chart. We could do a relative comparison with a simple bar chart

Canvas Chart in kdb - KX

Or we could transpose the chart, add a second axis so the independent values for Revenue and Accounts can be charted alongside each other, while retaining a relative relationship between the bars.

Revenue and Accounts Chart kdb - KX

What bar charts neatly show is how fewer than 100 accounts ranked A and A+ are responsible for nearly half of all revenue, while at the same time, Tier C clients contribute relatively little in the way of revenue but are likely a major resource drain given the high number of accounts.

The trend towards lower revenue can be displayed with a line chart. Revenue marks a clear decline from Tier B clients. Charting the relative differential between % Account and % Revenue shows how revenue is dominant for Tier A, A+ and B accounts, but this is no longer the case for Tier C, D and All Other rated accounts.

Line Chart in kdb - KX

While a line chart is good for showing trend, it’s less useful for visualizing the degree of importance between categories.   A better way show the relative importance of dependent variables between categories is to use a Pie Chart.

Pie Chart Built in kdb - KX

While a pie chart shows the relative importance of Tier A and A+ accounts in contributing to revenue compared to the more numerous Tier B and C accounts, it doesn’t do this in a manner which makes it easy to differentiate. However, we could do this by adjusting the colors used.

Pie Chart in kdb - KX

But this comes across as artificial and wouldn’t be adaptable if other rated accounts saw revenue improvements.

The Radar charts merge the best aspects of a bar and line chart into a single visualization.  We can see from the fill area how important Tier A and A+ accounts are in contributing to revenue, but also how revenues fall precipitously for the more numerous, lower rated accounts.

An illustration Using KX Dashboards - KX

Starting with a simple table, we can see how Kx Dashboards offers numerous ways to visualize data, both from within the table and with the charting opportunities available.


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