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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Information architecture for massive data output.

    Hi,

    I need to design a site for a client which requires the output from a lot of data - mainly measurements presented in a table.

    I did some research on the web and looked for financial data sites like the Yahoo Financial site. But their results do not look visually very appealing.

    Does anyone has a good resource about how to present massive data amounts on a web page or some ideas on this subject that he/she might want to share?

    Thanks for any input.

    - H
    Last edited by Burgerb; May 21, 2002 at 23:25.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Enthusiast fuselodge's Avatar
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    you shoud try using PHP along with MySQL or some other database programs....on a more easier ground,try MS-Access.
    Last edited by fuselodge; May 21, 2002 at 23:29.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Columnist Skunk's Avatar
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    Massive data amounts are never fun to look at if they are in a table. I would suggest using dynamic graphs of some sort (or at least providing them as an option) - allowing users to specify which data sets they want plotted, what ranges to use and so on. Most server side language provide graphing support of some kind - PHP has a good graph library described here: http://www.zend.com/zend/tut/tutsweat3.php

    Another thing that might be worth considering is giving the user the option to download data in the form of an Excel spreadsheet. This is a lot easier than it sounds - if you provide the right content-type header you can output an HTML table and Excel will convert it in to a spread sheet for you. An article describing this technique implemented in PHP can be found here: http://www.evolt.org/article/Using_M...eets/20/26896/

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard creole's Avatar
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    Cold Fusion has built in Graphing functions that are very useful. You might consider checking into that as well.
    Adobe Certified Coldfusion MX 7 Developer
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  5. #5
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    Thanks to all of you for the tips and advices. Unfortunately my client already works with ASP and I doubt it that he will switch to something else.

    I just got a book from the Library called:http://"The Visual Display of Quanti...349/tufte/</a>

    Tufte explains how to measure Data Density and how to work with charts. Unfortunately he's not explaining much about the web itself or how you can work with the limitation of web-design when you have to handle large numbers. I think that most scripting languages are supporting you with manipulating the data output... but I'm more interested in thepure Design aspect, things like: Color Shading, How to set boarders so it's easy for the human eye to know where the information is, fonts to use, How to create a Design Style Guide for a complete Web suite. The language should support all this but how do you start creating something like this from a pure design perspective without the language in mind?

    - Holger
    Last edited by Burgerb; May 23, 2002 at 11:20.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Enthusiast Crockett's Avatar
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    I feel your pain

    I've been involved as an IA in a couple projects which sound like what you're talking about. One was for marketing managers for a hotel chain in LatAm that were managing a points reward program. Tons of data. The other was a for a sales extranet to support sales people in the field for a sports nutrician company. In both cases, after learning about how the end-users did their jobs, and what they were looking for in an online business tool, the overall theme we needed to achieve was flexibility.

    In the hotel case, we could build in a dozen or so commonly accessed reports based on business logic we got from the client. Same thing for the sales staff. But to really allow these managers and sales staff take advantage of the data, we needed to design a system that would allow them to manipulate as per their individual needs.

    In the case of the hotels, were talking about very complex equations of modifying reward point values from 25 distinct regions x 25 distinct regions x individual date ranges x member status x etc etc etc. Building all these report possibilities into the application was out of reach budget wise. And we were scared that if 3-4 managers tried to use the reports at the same time the servers would go kaput.

    What did we do ? Export to Excel. MBA's love that program!! I used to marvel at how some adept excel users could quickly get some really cool stuff out of a bunch of numbers. If you're end users are people that are accustomed to playing w/ numbers, chances are they're very comfortable w/ excel. No use in forcing these users to learn a new tool, right ?

    As far as design is concerned, we kept things very excel like. table borders are important for scanning, as are alternate shading. One thing I wanted to implement but never got around to doing was giving users a couple of styles they could view the data by switching css. You could give'em a classic spreadsheet view and something nice you can show off in your portfolio...

  7. #7
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    DATA

    you may also want to take a look at OLAP cubes and Active/Pivot Chart. One thing I really like about it is the function to drill into your massive data in just one click. You can sort out your data depending on how you created your cube and you can show this real-time using Active Charts.

    regards.


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