What is a Guided Analysis?

There may be times when you want to create and share an analysis file with other people and have them perform their own analysis on it. You might want to set up the analysis file to load particular data and show certain visualizations, but also provide instructions for other people on how to use the document. There might be a specific order a person should go through the pages, and detailed instructions on what to look for and which filters are relevant to manipulate on each page. To aid in this, there are a number of things you can do in TIBCO Spotfire to set up a guided flow through your document.

When the recipients of your analysis file open it, they will be guided through the analysis as per your instructions, but be able to do their own filtering and look closer at any noteworthy aspects they find interesting. This allows you to set up a generic analysis covering a subject such as sales over the entire United States, but instruct the recipients to filter down to the state they work in.

Some methods you can use to make your analysis guided are:

Create a cover page

Show the cover page for your document and explain the purpose of the analysis on this page. Tell the recipients what kind of data are included in the analysis, and the possible results to look for. When you save the analysis file, before sharing it with your colleagues, make sure the cover page is active so that the analysis file will open showing that page first.

Write instructions in text areas

You might want several pages in your document. The first page might display a map chart of the United States showing overall sales results. The second page might have a bar chart comparing the sales and expenditures across the different states. The third page might show sales figures for each individual salesperson.

It is recommended that each page include a text area in which you provide some explanatory text about what the page shows and its purpose. Give the reader some instructions on what filters are relevant to manipulate, and perhaps mention that they can mark interesting items in the visualization and see more information about those items in the Details-on-Demand window. For example, on the second page with the bar chart comparing states' sales and expenditures – you could ask the recipients to select the radio button that filters down to the state they work in.

Tip: To more easily indicate which filter you want users to manipulate, right-click on the filter, select Copy, then open the text area, and Paste the image of the filter there along with your instructions.

The use of property controls in the text area may be a great help when creating analyses for other people. Just remember to add instructions regarding any constrictions for the control and inform about the purpose of the control using regular text.

Place links or buttons to relevant tools or views in the text areas

In some cases, it might be relevant for the recipients to perform an action; to filter out values, to go to another page, to apply a bookmark or to open a panel from the menu bar, etc. Instead of writing a long instruction, you can create a link or a button in the text area that performs this action when clicked. The instruction you do write in the text area can be simpler, like "When you have marked the items of interest, click here to filter to filter out all other items from the visualization." Links and buttons are a very powerful way to allow even casual users of TIBCO Spotfire to perform analysis of data in a fast and easy manner.

Links or buttons can also include bookmarks that show a specific view of the data, thus explaining the steps that have led you to a particular conclusion. Using custom properties to define the visualizations, and property controls that allow the end users to easily change the property values can further simplify the analysis procedure for many people.

Use step-by-step or history arrows page navigation

When you want to emphasize that the recipients of your analysis file should step through the pages in a certain order, you should change the page navigation from titled tabs to step-by-step navigation. This means that the pages will instead be shown as numeric links, together with a Previous and Next link, above the visualization area. The recipient of the analysis file will then start on the cover page, if you have selected to show it, or on the first real page. By clicking Next, the user will step through each page in order, performing the analysis described in the text areas along the way.

This can be very powerful since, by default, the filtering done on one page affects all other pages as well. You can therefore create a procedural flow wherein the first page allows the recipient to filter out unwanted data by looking at one visualization. Then he can proceed to the next page, where he continues to drill down into the data, filtering out more unwanted rows which he might see using another visualization, and so on.

You can also select Page Navigation > History Arrows and define your own navigation flow using actions in text areas or in graphical tables. This way, clicking on an item directly on the pages will be the only way to move forward within the analysis. However, the page history arrows located above the visualizations will always make it possible to return to a previously visited page.

Use customized filtering schemes

By default, the filter settings are the same for every page in the document, and they will stay the same until you start changing the filtering schemes. The filtering schemes give you complete control and complete freedom to decide which pages of your guided analysis should affect one another and which should not. You can keep the same filtering scheme for all pages, create a different one for each page, or assign the same filtering scheme to two or more pages.

Applying different filtering schemes can be useful if your guided analysis consists of several separate analyses originating from the same data table. When two pages use the same filtering scheme, the filtering performed on one page is propagated to the second page and vice versa. If they use different filtering schemes the filtering on each page only affects that very page.

For example, you can create one page where State is the only activated filter, permitting the recipients to click through and compare sales for the states without being bothered with any other filters. (If you want to, you can also use organize filters to hide all unused filters.) On the next page, you can apply a different filtering scheme relevant to another analysis of the sales data and so on.

Keep in mind the intended end users’ level of data access

Always make sure the end users of your guided analysis have access to the same data sources as you do. Permissions to analyses and information links are handled using the Library Administration tool. See also Preparing Analyses for the TIBCO Spotfire Web Clients. You may also consider adding prompt steps that could limit the available data for each end user. If prompts should be shown each time the analysis is loaded, then this should be specified in the Data Table Properties dialog before saving the analysis to the library.

Also, when your users access your analysis using the iPad Analytics app, remember that the swipe functionality used to move between pages supercedes your guide controls.

See also:

Cover Page

How to Use the Text Area


How to Edit Document Properties