Demographic Dashboard: The Crystal Xcelsius Edition?

Part 1: The Beginning

I just downloaded the trial (full-featured) version of Crystal Xcelsius Professional 4.5. This is a typical dashboard solution from a leading vendor and, although Stephen Few doesn’t like it I decided to buy it.

Well, on one simple condition: by the end of the trial period I must have a working Crystal Xcelsius version of my Demographic Dashboard. Or, at least, a screenshot of what could be a Crystal Xcelsius version of the Demographic Dashboard. This version should display the same amount of data than the Excel version and include similar or better charts, in a single screen. Fair enough?

This will be fun.

(Please, pleeeease, is there anyone that knows that this is a waste of my precious time because it just can’t be done? If so, speak now or forever hold your peace.)

So, let’s get started…

Part 2: Demographic KPI

Demographic Dashboard Gauges

Wow! My very first gauges… These are great alternatives to the boring row of demographic KPI in the Excel version of the Demographic Dashboard. But this is the easy stuff. Let’s add the population pyramid.

To be continued…

9 thoughts on “Demographic Dashboard: The Crystal Xcelsius Edition?

  1. I used CX Now! last month to produce a simple sample of an interactive graphic which was dropped into a PPT slide. Works OK in Office 2003 but not in Office 2007, problem with the flash elements I think. The CX Pro edition certainly supplies more than the cut-down CX Now! but the COST (here in the UK was £200 ) prohibits me from purchasing the software.

    CX also requires some considerable pre-formatting of the source data, which the help files clearly did state. The outcome for me was to consider how I could setup my worksheets so that the “correct/compatible” format was used, and then I can start to develop more interactive data visualizations, which is the objective.

    My opinion is that the Crystal Xcelsius suite of applications are very good if you’re prepared to invest the time to set the data up correctly. At the end of the day you only get out what you’re prepared to put in.

  2. Dashboard Pete
    The “correct/compatible” format can indeed be a problem and a time-consuming task, and the long list of unsupported Excel functions doesn’t help.

    Some months ago I also tested the CX Now! and I was not convinced. Now I have a benchmark that I can use to test the Pro version. I am sure this can be very enlightening for me and for the Charts readers.

  3. I have done a lot of research on different vendors for what most call dashboards. There are two that intrigue me.
    1) Steve Few’s bullet charts, which can be done in Excel and sparklines. Based on your comments and favorite books, I presume you’ve read Information Dashboard Design. He’s got some pretty nice dashboards.
    2) A company called Tableau. Check them out at http://www.tableausoftware.com. Their Tableau 3.0 is Excel and Xcelsius on steroids!

    The CX gauges above are “tasty”, but lack good substance. I was much more impressed with your dashboard in Excel!

  4. Tony

    This CX version of the Demographic Dashboard is a game that I am trying to play with an open mind. More than that: I want to design a better dashboard than the one I designed with Excel. If people buy CX and other similar software to put some gauges in a dashboard, that’s what a I’ll do too. When the project is over I’ll see the results. For the moment, “style” is the name of the game…

    Stephen Few likes Tableau and I tend to agree with him, based on what I see in the online tour. I also downloaded their free trial a while back, but I couldn’t find the time to test it. Isn’t it a bit a “SpotFire Lite”?

    I am using bullet charts for an internal project but there was no place for them in the dashboard. They can be done in Excel but it is not a straightforward task for the average Excel user.

    And did you know you don’t need add-ins to use sparklines in Excel?

  5. Jorge – you’re right of course, “STYLE” is the name of the game, or rather I like to design for visual effect, make the client/viewer take notice of what is on the screen. Raw data doesn’t do the trick unfortunately.
    Your Demographic Dashboard has got me thinking about using databases and spreadsheets combined to present different dashboards, but there is a lot of work to be done…. B-)
    What’s your sparklines solution for Excel ?

  6. Yep I’m familiar with the camera tool & with Charley Kyds work in ExcelUser – in fact I have his book on my desk & used it to get started with dashboards.
    I’ll get a look at Fernandos xls & pull out the technique.
    Just completed a CX Now! demo ppt which looks good, but limited in functionality. However, perhaps it will be successful in providing the neccessary investment!

  7. Your demographics dashboard can be re-created in Xcelsius, and then forwarded to your customers via many different file formats. However, getting through a learning curve may be less fun than bashing Xcelsius.

  8. Stack
    I am not bashing CX (yet…). And I’ll get through the learning curve as much as possible. And I’ll ask for advice if I meet a dead-end.

    There are some things that are fundamentally wrong in CX (to be discussed in a next post), but please don’t assume that I like the Excel charts beyond reason. I find them ugly, with many misplaced and ill-chosen options. But Excel is the the facto standard tool for business visualization and it has to be used as a benchmark.

    The post on population pyramids is almost ready. Hope I can have your valuable input.

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