Author Archive: Michael

New! The MicroStrategy Community

MicroStrategy Community

Source: Welcome to the new MicroStrategy community! , MicroStrategy Community, September 8, 2014, http://community.microstrategy.com/t5/Community-News/Welcome-to-the-new-MicroStrategy-community/bc-p/198140#M84.

We’re very happy that you are here. We read and analyzed feedback from many events and surveys concerning our current Discussion Forums and Knowledge Base. Today, we are proud to present to you the new MicroStrategy community. We’re very excited to have reached this milestone after a lot of hard work over the past six months.

Our primary goal with our new community is to ensure the best possible experience for you when interacting with everything MicroStrategy. Not only have we enhanced the look and feel, but also merged the data of our Discussion Forums and our Knowledge Base into a single site. Our search capabilities have expanded to make our information easier to find and more accessible.

Note that not everything from the old discussions forums is held true here in the new community. For instance, we have a new ranking structure and other fun elements such as badges. There are also some changes in terminology. Previously, for posts marked as “helpful,” now posts are given a “kudo.” Also, instead of “right answer” we now have “accepted solutions.”

Thanks for taking part in our beta launch. We hope it offers you a fresh perspective on what MicroStrategy can be as we focus on delivering a world-class customer experience that is simple, transparent, and empowering for everyone.

MicroStrategy’s Community Team is always open to hearing from you. Post in the Community Feedback board to share your thoughts or message us to address your personal concerns. We are always looking for more ideas and suggestions because the more we share, the better we grow and design the community.

Post away!

Lili and Daphne
MicroStrategy Community Managers

DataViz: Squaring the Pie Chart (Waffle Chart)

Readers:

Robert-Kosara-Tableau-Software-200x200In the past, I would have highly condemned pie charts without giving you much explanation why. However, Dr. Robert Kosara (photo, left), posted a great thought study of pie charts on his wonderful blog, EagerEyes.org, that I want to share with you.

Dr. Kosara is a Visual Analytics Researcher at Tableau Software, with a special interest in the communication of, and storytelling with, data. He has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Vienna University of Technology.

Also, as part of his blog post, Robert offers an alternative way to create pie charts: using waffle charts or square pie charts.

Dr. Kosara is also one of the great minds behind Tableau’s new storytelling feature. I hope you enjoy his creative thoughts as much as I do.

Best Regards,

Michael

The Pie Chart

Dr. Kosara contends that pie charts are perhaps the most ubiquitous chart type; they can be found in newspapers, business reports, and many other places. But few people actually understand the function of the pie chart and how to use it properly. In addition to issues stemming from using too many categories, the biggest problem is getting the basic premise: that the pie slices sum up to a meaningful whole.

Touchstone Energy Corporation Pie Chart
Robert points out that the circle (the “pie”) represents some kind of whole, which is made up of the slices. What this means is that the pie chart first and foremost represents the size relationship between the parts and the entire thing. If a company has five divisions, and the pie chart shows profits per division, the sum of all the slices/divisions is the total profits of the company.

Five Slices

 

If the parts do not sum up to a meaningful whole, they cannot be represented in a pie chart, period. It makes no sense to show five different occupations in a pie chart, because there are obviously many missing. The total of such a subsample is not meaningful, and neither is the comparison of each individual value to the artificial whole.

Slices have to be mutually exclusive; by definition, they cannot overlap. The data therefore must not only sum up to a meaningful whole, but the values need to be categorized in such a way that they are not counted several times. A good indicator of something being wrong is when the percentages do not sum up to 100%, like in the infamous Fox News pie chart.

The Infamous Fox News Pie Chart

Fox News Pie Chart

In the pie chart above, people were asked which potential candidates they viewed favorably, but they could name more than one. The categories are thus not mutually exclusive, and the chart makes no sense. At the very least, they would need to show the amount of overlap between any two (and also all three) candidates. Though given the size of the numbers and the margin of error in this data, the chart is entirely meaningless.

When to Use Pie Charts

Dr. Kosara points out that there are some simple criteria that you can use to determine whether a pie chart is the right choice for your data.

  • Do the parts make up a meaningful whole? If not, use a different chart. Only use a pie chart if you can define the entire set in a way that makes sense to the viewer.
  • Are the parts mutually exclusive? If there is overlap between the parts, use a different chart.
  • Do you want to compare the parts to each other or the parts to the whole? If the main purpose is to compare between the parts, use a different chart. The main purpose of the pie chart is to show part-whole relationships.
  • How many parts do you have? If there are more than five to seven, use a different chart. Pie charts with lots of slices (or slices of very different size) are hard to read.

In all other cases, do not use a pie chart. The pie chart is the wrong chart type to use as a default; the bar chart is a much better choice for that. Using a pie chart requires a lot more thought, care, and awareness of its limitations than most other charts.

Alternative: Squaring the Pie

A little-known alternative to the round pie chart is the square pie or waffle chart. It consists of a square that is divided into 10×10 cells, making it possible to read values precisely down to a single percent. Depending on how the areas are laid out (as square as possible seems to be the best idea), it is very easy to compare parts to the whole. The example below is from a redesign Dr. Kosara did a while ago about women and girls in IT and computing-related fields.

Kosara Square Pie

Links to Examples of Waffle Charts

I did a little Googling and found a few great examples of Waffle Charts. I have provided links to examples in Tableau, jQuery, R and Excel. I hope in the new month or so to create an example for you using MicroStrategy.

Squaring The Pie

Sources:

Interview Question #9: Governing VLDB Properties

Question

Which of the following VLDB properties govern the length of a SQL string as well as the time a SQL pass takes to execute? (Select all that apply).

A.  SQL Time Out (Per Pass)

B.  Preserve All Lookup Table Elements

C.  Result Set Row Limit

D.  Maximum SQL/MDX Size

E.  Allow Index on Metric

Answer

Both

A.  SQL Time Out (Per Pass)

and

D.  Maximum SQL/MDX Size

 

Maximum SQL/MDX Size and SQL Time Out (Per Pass)

The Maximum SQL/MDX Size and SQL Time Out (Per Pass) VLDB Properties govern the length of a SQL string as well as the time a SQL pass can take to execute.

Maximum SQL/MDX Size sets the maximum size (in bytes), on a pass-by-pass basis, of the SQL that the ODBC driver sends to the warehouse. Or, in the case of MDX, it sets the maximum size of the MDX that is sent to multidimensional cube sources such as SAP BW, Hyperion Essbase, or Microsoft Analysis Services.

If a pass exceeds the limit, the report execution terminates and an error message displays:

I9-1

The possible value for this VLDB property is any valid integer. The default value is 0 (No limit).

SQL Time Out (Per Pass) sets the maximum duration allowed (in seconds) for each SQL pass (even intermediate passes). If any pass of SQL runs longer then its allocated time, the report fails and an error message displays:

I9-2

The value you enter to define this VLDB property must be an integer.

MicroStrategy Course Where You Will Learn About This Topic

MicroStrategy Engine Essentials Course

Interview Question #8 : Many-to-Many Relationships in MicroStrategy

Question

Which of the following issues can result from many-to-many relationships?

A. Exclusion of some attribute elements when drilling

B. Multiple join paths to fact tables

C. Missing values on reports including all attributes from the hierarchy

D. Multiple counting when aggregating data from base fact tables

E. Lost analytical capability

Answer

Both

D. Multiple counting when aggregating data from base fact tables

      and

E. Lost analytical capability

 

Challenges of Many-to-Many Relationships

Because many-to-many relationships require distinct relationship tables, you have to design the logical data model and data warehouse schema in such a way that you can accurately analyze the relationship in regard to any relevant fact data.

If the structure of your logical data model and data warehouse schema does not adequately address the complexities of querying attribute data that contains many-to-many relationships, you can have problems like lost analytical capability and multiple counting.

I will be exploring both of these topics more next week as Tips and Tricks.

MicroStrategy Course Where You Will Learn About This Topic

MicroStrategy Advanced Data Warehousing Course

MicroStrategy Leads in Forrester Wave Agile BI Report, Q2, 2014

Forrester Wave Agile BI Q2 2014

MicroStrategy Analytics Platform received top scores for the features technology professionals need to enable business user business intelligence (BI) self-service, as well as for the effectiveness of its advanced data visualization (ADV) functionality in the recently published Forrester Wave: Agile Business Intelligence Report for Q2, 2014.

According to the report, “Forrester also scored MicroStrategy highly for the business user capabilities to provision applications and data and perform data integration tasks within the BI tool. MicroStrategy received high client feedback scores for its agile, business user self-service and ADV functionality. Clients also gave MicroStrategy a top score for its product vision.”

The report also stated that “in addition to its Agile BI offerings, MicroStrategy’s traditional strengths are its organically grown architecture and a powerful ROLAP engine, which in the long-term can often reduce total cost of ownership by reducing the number of reports and dashboards that need to be produced. With its integrated desktop and cloud-based SaaS offerings, MicroStrategy buyers can start small and scale quickly.”

To get a free download of the complete report, visit MicroStrategy’s Web site at http://www.MicroStrategy.com.

Interview Question #7: Object Manager

Question

As a MicroStrategy developer, you are constantly using Object Manager to migrate objects that you develop inside the Subject Areas folder in your project. To save time, what object can you create to enable you to go straight to this folder when you open Object Manager?

A. Layout

B. Project Source

C. Script

D. Template

E. You cannot accomplish this in the Object Manager.

Answer

A. Layout

Opening multiple project sources at once in Object Manager

You may need to migrate objects between the same projects on multiple occasions. For example, you may need to move objects from your development environment to your test environment on a regular basis. Object Manager allows you to save the projects and project sources that you are logged in to as a layout. Later, instead of opening each project and project source individually, you can open the layout and automatically re-open those projects and project sources.

The default file extension for Object Manager Layout files is .omw.

To open an existing Object Manager layout

  1. From the File menu, select Open Layout. The Select Layout dialog box opens.

  2. Select a layout and click Open. A Login dialog box opens for each project source specified in the layout.

  3. For each Login dialog box, type a MicroStrategy login ID and password. The login must have the Use Object Manager privilege.

  4. Click OK. The project sources open. You are automatically logged in to the projects specified in the layout, as the user you logged into the project source with.

To save a workspace as an Object Manager layout

  1. Log in to any project sources and projects that you want to save in the layout.

  2. From the File menu, select Save Layout. The Save Layout dialog box opens.

  3. Specify a location and name for the layout file and click Save. The layout is saved.

MicroStrategy Course Where You Will Learn About This Topic

MicroStrategy Administration: Application Management Course

WIRED: A Redesigned Parking Sign So Simple That You’ll Never Get Towed

web-snow-day-1

Your car gets towed, and who do you blame? Yourself? God no, you blame that impossibly confusing parking sign. It’s a fair accusation, really. Of all the questionable communication tools our cities use, parking signs are easily among the worst offenders. There are arrows pointing every which way, ambiguous meter instructions and permit requirements. A sign will tell you that you can park until 8 am, then right below it another reading you’ll be towed. It’s easy to imagine that beyond basic tests for legibility, most of these signs have never been vetted by actual drivers.

Like most urban drivers, Nikki Sylianteng was sick of getting tickets. During her time in Los Angeles, the now Brooklyn-based designer paid the city far more than she would’ve liked to. So she began thinking about how she might be able to solve this problem through design. She realized that with just a little more focus on usability, parking signs could actually be useful. “I’m not setting out to change the entire system,” she says. “It’s just something that I thought would help frustrated drivers.” [1]

Sylianteng notes: [2]

I’ve gotten one-too-many parking tickets because I’ve misinterpreted street parking signs. The current design also poses a driving hazard as it requires drivers to slow down while trying to follow the logic of what the sign is really saying. It shouldn’t have to be this complicated.

The only questions on everyone’s minds are:
1. “Can I park here now?”
2. “Until what time?”

My strategy was to visualize the blocks of time when parking is allowed and not allowed. I kept everything else the same – the colors and the form factor – as my intention with this redesign is to show how big a difference a thoughtful, though conservative and low budget, approach can make in terms of time and stress saved for the driver. I tried to stay mindful of the constraints that a large organization like the Department of Transportation must face for a seemingly small change such as this.

01 two-step

The sign has undergone multiple iterations, but the most recent features a parking schedule that shows a whole 24 hours for every day of the week. The times you can park are marked by blocks of green, the times you can’t are blocked in a candy-striped red and white. It’s totally stripped down, almost to the point of being confusing itself. But Sylianteng says there’s really no need for the extraneous detailed information we’ve become accustomed to. “Parking signs are trying to communicate very accurately what the rules actually are,” she says. “I’ve never looked at a sign and felt like there was any value in knowing why I couldn’t park. These designs don’t say why, but the ‘what’ is very clear.”

Sylianteng’s design still has a way to go. First, there’s the issue of color blindness, a factor she’s keenly aware of. The red and green are part of the legacy design from current signs, but she says it’s likely she’d ultimately change the colors to something more universal like blue. Then there’s the fact that urban parking is a far more complex affair than most of us care to know. There’s an entire manual on parking regulations; and Sylianteng’s design does gloss over rules concerning different types of vehicles and space parameters indicating where people can park. She’s working on ways to incorporate all of that without reverting back to the information overload she was trying to avoid in the first place. [1]

redesigned-parking-inline2

Sylianteng also posted on her blog an illustration of the problem in terms of biocost, as part of her Cybernetics class with Paul Pangaro. [2]

Biocost_ParkingSign

Sylianteng has been going around Manhattan and Brooklyn hanging up rogue revamped parking signs. “A friend of mine called it functional graffiti,” she says. She’ll stick a laminated version right below the city-approved version and ask drivers to leave comments. In that way, Sylianteng’s design is still a ways away from being a reality, but so far, she’s gotten pretty good feedback. “One person wrote: ‘The is awesome. The mayor should hire you.’” [1]

————————————————————————

Sources:

[1] Liz Stinson, A Redesigned Parking Sign So Simple That You’ll Never Get Towed, Wired, July 15, 2014, http://www.wired.com/2014/07/a-redesigned-parking-sign-so-simple-youll-never-get-towed-again.

[2] Nikki Sylianteng, blog, http://nikkisylianteng.com/project/parking-sign-redesign/.

Michael Saylor Keynote – MicroStrategy World Barcelona – July 2014

Click on image to watch keynote video

Click on image to watch keynote video

MicroStrategy Simplifies Product Packaging to Enhance Total Customer Experience

New MicroStrategy Pricing

Converges on Four Products; Offers Free Upgrades to Premium Capabilities for Existing Clients

BARCELONA, Spain, July 8, 2014 – MicroStrategy® Incorporated (Nasdaq: MSTR), a leading worldwide provider of enterprise software platforms, today announced a new packaging structure aimed at delivering the best end-to-end customer and partner experience, making it easier than ever to acquire, deploy, and succeed with MicroStrategy. MicroStrategy also announced that it is extending free upgrades for existing clients to the premium capabilities included in the new product packaging, offering greater value to clients and new users.

The packaging changes will empower new and existing MicroStrategy clients to realize the full potential of their analytical applications using the most comprehensive analytics and mobile platforms in the industry. This information, and more, can be found at: www.microstrategy.com/experience.

“Our new packaging makes it simple for organizations to choose MicroStrategy for the totality of their business analytics and mobile application needs,” said Paul Zolfaghari, President, MicroStrategy Incorporated. “We believe it instantly enhances our value to existing customers and is emblematic of our heightened focus on delivering a positive customer experience. The new packaging allows better preparation and planning for new deployments, providing more value over the broad range of solutions we offer.”

Under the new packaging structure, MicroStrategy’s full feature set, previously split into 21 discrete offerings, has been reduced to four simple packages that empower developers, analysts, power users, and consumers to take advantage of the comprehensive MicroStrategy platform with simplified value-based pricing.

“From a customer perspective this is a welcome change,” said Andrew Young, BI Director, at Bob Evans Farms, a MicroStrategy client. “Budgeting and planning new applications will be far easier, especially breaking down platform investments to our business customers. With the simplified offering and pricing structure we can paint a more complete picture and focus on the business value.”

MicroStrategy added that the new packaging allows clients to more affordably deploy the full breadth of MicroStrategy capabilities (including data federation, write-back, closed-loop analysis, and automated report distribution, among others) to more users across the enterprise, giving end users full authoring capabilities as needed and integration with Microsoft® Office® applications. System architects gain efficiencies with the full ability to manage upgrades, migrations, and data loads, as well as free server administration and monitoring features. Within the four product offerings, clients will have all styles of analytics (self-service, dashboards, advanced analytics) across any interface (web, mobile, pdf, email report distribution) at Big Data scale—on an automated platform.

“To maximize the value of a customer relationship requires that companies simplify the pricing to ensure the purchasing process of technology is easy and transparent,” said Mark Smith, CEO and Chief Research Officer at Ventana Research. “The new MicroStrategy packaging and pricing enable the best possible customer experience, while shortening the time to gain full value from technology for organizations.”

The new packaging focuses on user roles within an enterprise:

  • MicroStrategy Server™ benefits all user roles. It includes a fully-featured server infrastructure designed to connect to multiple data sources, supports all major analytic styles from report distribution to information-driven apps to self-service data discovery, and scales to hundreds of thousands of users. It also includes administration and monitoring tools needed by organizations to effectively and efficiently manage their deployments.
  • MicroStrategy Web™ empowers business users to consume, author, and design analytics through an intuitive web-based interface. Business analysts can use MicroStrategy Web to take advantage of the all-inclusive set of self-service analytic capabilities.
  • MicroStrategy Mobile™, the award-winning, industry-leading interface for Apple iOS and Android devices, is an easy, fast, affordable way to mobilize analytics and information-driven applications to an increasingly mobile and 24 x 7 workforce.
  • MicroStrategy Architect™ provides developers with an extensive set of development, deployment and migration tools needed to efficiently manage the application development lifecycle.

The Company also noted that these four offerings complement the free MicroStrategy Analytics Desktop™ it made available last year. MicroStrategy Analytics Desktop is a free self-service business analytics tool designed to enable any individual user to gain deep insight into the user’s data by effortlessly creating powerful, insightful visualizations and dashboards.

MicroStrategy Report Optimization: Computational Distance

Computational Distance

Source: MicroStrategy University, Deploying MicroStrategy High Performance BI, V9.3.1, MicroStrategy, Inc. September, 2013.

Computational Distance

Any BI system consist of a series of processes and tools that take raw data at the very bottom-at the transaction level in a database-and by using various technologies transform that data into the finished answer that the user needs. At every step along the way, some kind of processing is done in the following components-the database, network, BI application, or the browser.

The concept of “computational distance” refers to the length in terms of systems, transformations, and other processes that the data must undergo from its lowest level, all the way to being rendered on a browser as shown in the image above.

The longer the computational distance is for a given report, the longer it will take to execute and render. The preceding image shows a hypothetical example of a report that runs in 40 seconds. Each processing step on that report, such as aggregation, formatting, and rendering, adds to the report’s computational distance, increasing the report overall execution time.

Reducing the Computational Distance of a Report

Computation distance offers a useful framework from a performance optimization perspective because it tells us that to improve the performance of a report or dashboard, you must focus on reducing its overall computational distance. The following image shows different techniques such as caching, cubes, and aggregation that can be used to optimize performance for the 40 second hypothetical report.

In the next blog post, we will next look at two key computational distance reduction techniques offered in the MicroStrategy platform-caching and Intelligent Cubes.

Reducing the Computational Distance

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 89 other followers