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January 31, 2019

Set Actions: Dynamic Reference Lines and Coloring

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CONFESSION: I have been avoiding using set actions because I've struggled to wrap my head around getting them to work the way I think they should work.

Fortunately, we're surrounded by brilliant people at The Data School, so today Coach Carl asked Harry Cooney from DS11 (graduating tomorrow) to run a lesson for the team. Harry clearly understand them and walked us through several practical use cases to help us understand the basics. He then assigned each of us the task of recreating one of the vizzes from Lindsey Poulter's amazing resource of Set Action use cases. I was tasked with recreating her dynamic reference lines and colors viz.

I took on this challenge as I would a Workout Wednesday:

  1. Understand the requirements
  2. Play with the viz to see what it's doing
  3. Rebuild the viz
  4. Don't look at the method for the original until I'm done

I find this my best method for learning. Simply downloading the workbook and seeing how it was built doesn't help me learn as effectively as I would like.

Before showing the viz, I want to recap some of the things I have done differently that I think make the visualization simpler.

  • I built it all with one worksheet. Lindsey floated one sheet on top of another, meaning two sheets have to be maintained if changes need to be made.
  • I labeled all of the sub-categories in the upper right of each box. Lindsey had it as a label for the last dot.
  • I included tooltips and the x-axis.
  • I added the circles directly on the line rather than as a separate chart. This allowed me to use the dual axis for labeling the sub-categories.

Other than that, we used pretty much the same techniques. 

The team noticed that Lindsey used a lot of floating sheets on top of floating sheets to get the look she wanted. If that works for her, great! Our preference was to create them in a single sheet so that they are easier to maintain and debug by others later on if necessary.

I found this a really fun challenge and I learned a ton in a short amount of time. And thank you, Harry, for your fantastic teaching!

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