Generating Reports In Word Via Flow

Chris Webb has an example of taking a data set and generating a report in a Word document:

The idea is to loop through the rows in the Excel table and use the data on each row to populate the content controls in the template and then create a new Word document. Here’s a Flow that does this:

The steps are a bit convoluted, but they work. Chris mentions at the end why people might want to do this, and I’ll reiterate that: I’ve been in several discussions over the years where people want to embed data inside a document without manual intervention, and using tools like Reporting Services, that has not been pretty.

Visualization Failures

Stephanie Evergreen talks about two specific instances of self-inflicted visualization failure:

There’s a solid argument to be made that the scales in these charts shouldn’tstart at zero because we wouldn’t see any difference between the two years; all the lines would look flat. But there’s also a solid reason why they should start at zero—maybe I’m exaggerating the change if I don’t. Only the people who work closely with this data would know what kind of scale would fit best given the context of this foundation.

However, people on social media took notice of what they thought was a failure of mine and one commenter tweeted that “there’s no way [a dataviz Godfather] would approve this visual.” So, I got up the guts and sent the whole thing to the Godfather himself.

The Godfather wrote back: “To be honest, almost everything about your redesign is deceitful.” Ouch. I may have actually shed tears over this one. I was devastated.

There’s a good reminder here that failure is a critical part of learning.

Using Plotly In Power BI

Kara Annanie shows how you can R integration in Power BI to push Plotly visuals to users:

In the example, above, we’ve created a line chart visualization using Plotly and we’ve decided to put labels on the graph, but only on the first and last points of the line graph. This graph would be particularly useful to show 13 months of data overtime, where the left-most label shows January of last year, for example, and the right-most label shows January of this year, for example. The user could still view the trend across the year between both January data points.

Click through for a pair of videos and some notes on how to get started.

Combining Plots In R With cowplot

Abdul Majed Raja shows how to use the cowplot library in R to merge together independent plots into a single image:

The way it works in cowplot is that, we have assign our individual ggplot-plots as an R object (which is by default of type ggplot). These objects are finally used by cowplot to produce a unified single plot.

In the below code, We will build three different histograms using the R’s in-built dataset iris and then assign one by one to an R object. Finally, we will use cowplot function plot_grid() to combine the two plots of our interest.

The only thing that disappointed me with cowplot is that its name has nothing to do with cattle.

R htmlTable Updates

Max Gordon has some updates to the htmlTable package:

Even more common than grouping columns is probably grouping data by rows. The htmlTable allows you to do this by rgroup and tspanner. The most common approach is by using rgroupas the first row-grouping element but with larger tables you frequently want to separate concepts into separate sections. Here’s a more complex example. This has previously been a little cumbersome to to counting the rows of each tspanner but now you’re able to (1) leave out the last row, (2) specify the number of rgroups instead of the number of rows. The latter is convenient as the n.tspanner must align with the underlying rgroup. 

I haven’t used this package before, but it does look interesting. H/T R-bloggers

gganimate Now On CRAN

Thomas Lin Pedersen announces that gganimate is now available on CRAN:

While this commit was done in the autumn 2017, nothing further happened until I decided to make gganimate the center of my useR 2018 keynote, at which point I was forced (by myself) to have some sort of package ready by the summer of 2018.
A fair amount of users have shown displeasure in the breaking changes this history has resulted in. Many blog posts have already been written focusing on the old API, as well as code on numerous computers that will no longer work. I understand this frustration, of course, but both me and David agreed that doing it this way was for the best in the end. I’m positive that the new API has already greatly exceeded the mind-share of the old API and given a year the old API will be all but a distant memory…

Read on for information on these breaking changes, and how the changes will make life easier in the long run. And stay for the fireworks. H/T R-Bloggers

Reviewing Word Associations With R

Julia Silge does some exploratory analysis on the Small World of Words project:

The Small World of Words project focuses on word associations. You can try it out for yourself to see how it works, but the general idea is that the participant is presented with a word (from “telephone” to “journalist” to “yoga”) and is then asked to give their immediate association with that word. The project has collected more than 15 million responses to date, and is still collecting data. You can check out some pre-built visualizations the researchers have put together to explore the dataset, or you can download the data for yourself.

It’s an interesting analysis of the data set, mixed in with some good R code.

Using ggplot And plotly To Visualize Multivariate Data

Sebastian Sauer shows us a few techniques for visualizing multivariate data, using ggplot2 in some cases and plotly in others:

Plotting univariate (sampled) normal data
Well, that’s obvious.
d %>% ggplot(aes(x = X1)) + geom_density()

It gets much less obvious from there.  It was also interesting learning about ggplotly, a function which translates ggplot2 visuals to plotly visuals.

The Power BI Visual Vocabulary

Jason Thomas has put together a great Power BI report:

Note that there are some R/Python visuals and currently, R/Python visuals are not available on “Publish to Web”. Hence, I have just used a checkbox on the top of the report to show the images wherever R visuals are used (can be identified by the colorful border around the image). However, you can download the source file and then publish it to your tenant, and see the actual R visuals there in a browser by unselecting the checkbox. You can also look at the pbix file and see the source code behind the visuals.

Definitely check this out.  Jason did a great job.

UI Versus UX

Rajeev Thakur explains the differences between UI and UX and how they fit together:

Most of the people swap UI with UX and that’s the most common mistake. Let’s understand their difference.
UI mainly focuses on the look of your application. It is the process of improving the interactivity and presentation of your web or mobile app. Being a UI designer you need to have creative and convergent thinking, so you can improve its look and contribute to better user interaction with the application. With the unique visualization of UI designer, we can have every screen page, buttons and other visual elements of the app look intuitive. UI Designer must also have basic knowledge of the tools in order to create a better app UI plus keeping in mind the user’s requirements. Tools that designer basically use are Adobe XD, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and sketch.
Whereas UX is all about creating the basic skeleton of any application. It works on wireframing of an application and structuring all its components appropriately to create the user flow. The thought process of a UX Designer must be both a mix of critical and creative thinking. UX design is more of a human-centric design an enhancement of user’s experience is the main goal here. User’s needs and research play a significant role here. Usability testing must also be done frequently after the basic skeleton of the app has been prepared because that helps in cross-checking all the components.

Read the whole thing.


May 2019
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