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How to build an information dashboard?
February 29, 2012 12:07 PM   Subscribe

What tools should I use to create an information dashboard?

I want to create an information dashboard to track certain queries and events. When you google for "information dashboard" and go to images, you can see a ton of these things, some of which look pretty nice:

http://www.massiveblue.com/clients/carbonmade/pulse/
http://blog.last.fm/2008/08/01/quality-control
http://www.flickr.com/photos/eston/3805310805/
http://www.panic.com/blog/2010/03/the-panic-status-board/

Assuming I speak SQL and Python but don't want to build my own visualizations from scratch, what's the easiest way to build one or more information dashboards? Are there web services that make it really easy? I probably don't want/need some overarching BI product, more something where I can output a few different tables worth of data and then have something visualize it for me. I'd like to be able to customize the metrics, but the data itself is pretty generic (e.g., how many widgets sold today, what is the overlap between customers last year vs this year, etc.).

Should I build something custom with Google Charts? Are things like Geckoboard or Mixpanel any good for this type of task?
posted by pbh to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
HTML/javascript. Google charts will work. I really like Flot (javascript charting).
posted by wongcorgi at 12:12 PM on February 29, 2012


There's a really cool service called Ducksboard that's all about setting up really slick info dashboards. There's a bunch of built-in metrics you can hook up really easily (tracking Pivotal Tracker stories, Zen Desk tickets, etc), and can can also create custom ones, although I haven't experimented with that yet.
posted by duien at 12:36 PM on February 29, 2012


I've done a lot of research into this, and we eventually just built our own from scratch to compile from our in-house CRM, but the only other option that was flexible enough to do what we wanted to do and actually looked good out-of-the-box was Highcharts. Other JS libraries were just too bulky and unfriendly for us.
posted by june made him a gemini at 12:43 PM on February 29, 2012


Sorry, you're looking for options to create the dashboard design itself, not visualize the data. I'd still just suggest building a simple page with some DIVs that contain the charts themselves, though.
posted by june made him a gemini at 12:45 PM on February 29, 2012


(Wow, totally posting a third time, sorry. Just remembered that you might have some luck going through Dribbble posts tagged "dashboard" and see if they're using any off-the-shelf platforms.)
posted by june made him a gemini at 12:49 PM on February 29, 2012


2nding Highcharts, very nice little library.
posted by spatula at 4:19 PM on February 29, 2012


Howard Rheingold, the originator of most of the online learning concepts that we use today, has a nice introduction to the use of information dashboards. It is designed as an online course for novices, but it is worth combing through the links. There are some excellent resources and how-to's in amongst the detail.
posted by Susurration at 5:48 PM on February 29, 2012


Geekboard and Cyfe are two other existing dashboard platforms to check out.

Contrast.ie has a great post about their process building a business dashboard.
posted by ElfWord at 6:32 PM on February 29, 2012


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