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Day: April 14, 2022

Including Zero on Charts

Steve Jones thinks about zero:

I’m not great at building charts and graphs. I can build a basic chart, but I often depend on the tooling I use to size, scale, etc. appropriately for whatever I’m graphing. That, or I just use a basic graph that starts from zero and has some sort of linear scale. Or I just present a table of numbers.

There are plenty of misleading charts, especially used by the media that want to show some particular aspect of data that suits the story they are reporting. Many of these misleading charts often don’t start at zero, and they end up scaling in a way that can confuse people.

Steve references a lengthy article on the topic, one which is definitely worth the read, especially because as far as I’m aware, most of the academic literature on visualization and starting at 0 ignores line charts. The only work I’m familiar with is Cleveland, McGill, and McGill, who recommended banking to 45 degrees (and here’s an example of it in SAS).

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Code Formatting Holy Wars

Tom Zika and I are on opposite sides:

So I’ll take it one step further.
I’ll never use semicolons unless I have to.

Tools like Redgate’s SQL Prompt can add semicolons automatically, but I still won’t do it.

My quick thoughts:

  • Semi-colons? Love them. The chaotic neutral part of me wants to see Microsoft make good on their deprecation notice of code lacking semi-colons just to watch the world burn.
  • Commas go at the end because we are not barbarians.
  • Aliases should be short and sufficiently meaningful within the context of the statement. Tom and I agree here.
  • PascalCase is the best case.
  • INNER JOIN instead of JOIN because, again, we are not barbarians. LEFT OUTER JOIN instead of LEFT JOIN because, well, you guessed it.

And at the end of the day, consistency and readability are the most important things…though I’ll fight for my aesthetics like I’m the third monkey in line for Noah’s Ark and brother, it’s starting to rain.

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