Loren Abdulezer is CEO and president of Evolving Technologies Corporation, a New York-based technology consulting firm that specializes in visual data analysis. He has a long-standing record in the Xcelsius community and has been a staunch proponent of the technology since its early days.
Loren is the editor-in-chief of Xcelsius Journal (www.XcelsiusJournal.com), an online magazine dedicated to users in the Xcelsius user community. Loren also started the website Xcelsius Best Practices (www.XcelsiusBestPractices.com). Loren is the author of Excel Best Practices for Business and Escape from Excel Hell. He served as the technical editor of Crystal Xcelsius For Dummies. He can be reached at email@example.com.
A broad and growing community of professionals regularly prepares or needs to prepare dashboards and interactive visualizations and reports. Like many of those other professionals, I have used Excel to create useful reports and dashboards. The problem is that unless I incorporated extensive amounts of one-off code, Excel lacked some essential features that I was looking for:
The ability to deploy simple, self-contained dashboards that are suited for visual data analysis by ordinary users
Those capabilities existed in Xcelsius 3.0. Two product generations later, Xcelsius 2008 has undergone a metamorphosis; Xcelsius now includes a well-honed and highly integrated spreadsheet and dashboard design environment, significantly greater spreadsheet functionality, more visual components and interface options, a revamped and expanded framework for data connectivity, and the ability to create entirely new custom-designed components on equal footing with built-in components.
This is great stuff. It sounds like everybody ought to be using Xcelsius 2008, for anything and everything. But Xcelsius 2008 isn't intended to be a jack-of-all-trades. First and foremost, Xcelsius 2008 is a serious tool for building interactive dashboards and intelligent visualizations. The secret to its power is how it is joined at the hip with spreadsheets.
Xcelsius 2008 is remarkably easy to use. From a dashboard layout perspective, everything is point and click. You don't need much in the way of spreadsheet prowess to start doing interesting and useful things with Xcelsius. This quick bang for the buck is like kindling wood in a furnace: It's enough to get a flame started, but it won't heat up the room. To get a roaring and self-sustaining fire, you need to take things to the next level.
So what is stopping you from building better dashboards? The biggest challenge holding most people back is lack of time. If you are busy worrying about monitoring and meeting production quotas, or allocating budgets among competing projects, you are probably not going to spend a lot of time improving on a dashboard design once you get it working. Maybe for an occasional dashboard, that's smart thinking. If your dashboard serves you well, you will no doubt use it to do more things. Who knows? Maybe you need to enable weekly or daily analysis in addition to monthly analysis.
Say that you want to add a second product line, monitored by a dashboard. You start with your already working dashboard design as your template and add more features. As you keep cloning, you are stepping up your maintenance responsibilities and possibly bloating your dashboard. At some point not far down the road, the dashboard capabilities plateau. It is not nearly agile enough to keep up with changing requirements or expectations. This is where best practices come into play. I know that time is premium for you. It is for everyone. To save you valuable time, I have worked out a wealth of best practices and techniques so that you don't need to reinvent the wheel.
In this book, I do a few other things:
Explain how to construct custom components.
The undercurrent that runs through this book is empowerment. Every step of the way, I show how you can work smarter by using best practices.
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This book is very well written and the examples are easy to follow and provide excellent learning reinforcement. Read morePublished 9 months ago by David Hersch
I bought this book for a work project but it did not include the sample files and the website associated with those files had expired. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Len
Good book, well laid out and presented. This is a solid title that will definitely be of use to you - whether you are new to the app or comfortable with creating Xcelsius output. Read morePublished on September 19, 2011 by azjmw
Great book, I plan to use it for reference at work and have already found good uses from material found in it. Thanks!Published on August 23, 2011 by joe
Though the book is good in its content, its very difficult to follow the examples with the sample data the author provided. The steps just don't match.Published on June 18, 2011 by MightyIndian
While there is some good and useful information in this book (HIT) there is also confusion and omissions that make it difficult to follow along (MISS). Read morePublished on February 25, 2011 by Tiger Burrito
I feel like there should be a highway patrolman standing by this train wreck of a book saying "Nothing good to see here folks, move along... Read morePublished on December 28, 2010 by GHillam
Its a good book if you already know something or else its waste. It does not explain the Excel formulas properly in a easy way. Read morePublished on November 27, 2010 by Alok
Since the organization I work for recently purchased a Business Objects XI package that includes Xcelsius 2008, I picked up a copy of 'Xcelsius 2008 Dashboard Best Practices'. Read morePublished on June 23, 2010 by BRA