Nevron Vision for SharePoint Documentation
Dashboards - Getting Started
What are Dashboards

There are a lot of definitions for dashboards given by different authors, and we will give another one:

In software the term "dashboard" is a visual display of aggregated/condensed data from various data sources, that gives the users the ability to interactively navigate/explore this data.

Although our definition for a dashboard is pretty simple, following are more details on the key aspects of dashboard:

Dashboard Elements

Dashboards are constructed by two types of elements:

  • Display Elements - these are the data aggregation/visualization elements of the dashboard (for example Chart, Gauge, Map, Tablix etc.). Probably the most important feature of display elements is their ability to aggregate/condense the data passed to them for display. This is due to the fact that humans cannot see trends or make informed decisions when working with large amounts of non-aggregated data. No display element without ability for data aggregation can call itself dashboard ready.
  • Control Elements - these are the elements that control different parameters of the data aggregation/visualization (for example combo boxes, lists, date-time fields etc.).

The distinction of display and control elements should be clearly visible in all enterprise dashboards. This helps the user quickly locate the visual areas of the dashboard from which he/she controls the results displayed by the display elements. Typically control elements are placed on top of display elements, although right side or bottom side control elements are also commonly used.

Glue Between Display and Control Elements

Although most authors clearly see the separation of display and control elements, the implementation of the glue between them is most often never mentioned. This is because it is never so clear whether these control elements should control the data filtering, grouping, sorting and/or data visualization or all of these dashboard aspects simultaneously.

The key feature of dashboards - interactivity - is also somehow excluded from deep observation. Terms like Drill-Down Reports are often used as a synonym of filtering or user redirection, which is very incorrect. Real Drill-Down Reports can be much more sophisticated, as explained in the Actions and Drill Down reports topic.

In Nevron SharePoint Vision we have used Expressions and Parameters to implement the glue between control elements and display elements. Control elements are used to define the values of the custom dashboard parameters. Expression can consume parameter values in the entire pipeline of data connection, data grouping, filtering, sorting and data visualization. This gives you the flexibility to glue all aspects of your web parts to user controllable values, which is a truly unique feature for the SharePoint ecosystem.

Building Dashboards with Nevron Vision for SharePoint

Nevron Vision for SharePoint includes the essential elements that you need to develop complex dashboards directly in SharePoint, by converting arbitrary SharePoint pages into interactive dashboards. The creation of a dashboard is generally a two stage process that is divided into two phases - planning and implementation.

Planning Phase

Following are the most important questions that need to be answered during the planning phase:

1. Which are the data sources and what is their schema?

2. What data analysis must be performed on the data?

3. What display elements are needed to show the data analysis?

4. What parameters are needed and where and how are they used?

Implementation Phase

The development phase with Nevron Vision for SharePoint would require only the Nevron web parts installed. The implementation of custom parameters can be achieved in two ways:

• By using the SharePoint Filter WebParts – this is the recommended scenario for users with no HTML and JavaScript experience. The advantage of this method is that the entire authoring process is visual. The disadvantage of this method is that SharePoint Filter WebParts generally use postbacks, which results in an entire page refresh when parameters are changed. See Custom Parameters with SharePoint Filter WebParts for more info.

• By using the Nevron JavaScript API – this is the recommended scenario for users with HTML and JavaScript experience. The advantage of this method is that the display elements are updated via AJAX and you have fine control over which elements are refreshed and when – directly on the client side. The disadvantage of this method is that you need to get your hands dirty with HTML and JavaScript. See Custom Parameters with Nevron JavaScript API for more info.

The My First Dashboard in SharePoint topic explains how to create a simple dashboard by using the two possible parametrisation methods.


See Also



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