Data Visualization Glossary of Terms
Not everyone will be familiar with the terms and abbreviations used within the STORM website, therefore brief explanations of the most commonly used website terms and abbreviations are listed below.
A separately installable component which extends Dundas Dashboard. You can download add-ons from Dundas or develop your own via our open APIs. An add-on may provide a new Dashboard control, export option, data provider, or authentication provider.
An analytical dashboard displays the data (all or a subset) of an OLAP cube. Use the OLAP controls to perform in-depth analysis on the data.
The middle level of technology infrastructure commonly known as the “business intelligence stack.” The analytics layer is where data is turned into information by applying various formulas and analytical processes, usually related to predictive analytics, data mining and KPI formulation. This layer sits between the presentation layer above and the data layer below.
In dashboarding, annotations are comments attached to individual data visualizations intended to add context or otherwise communicate with other dashboard users. An example is when a user adds a personalized remark to a data point on the dashboard to provide background information or to raise concerns.
Dundas Dashboard lets you organize your dashboard annotations into groups that can be used to apply access controls or filter discussions.
A role/function that’s responsible for identifying business problems, analyzing them and then proposing business solutions. With Dundas Dashboard, a business analyst typically defines KPIs and may also be involved in the dashboard-design process.
See business intelligence stack.
business intelligence (BI)
Business intelligence encompasses many different concepts and technologies that help facilitate a better understanding of an organization’s place within its commercial context. Its goal is to gather, store, analyze and share data to help make better/smarter business decisions.
business intelligence stack (BI stack)
A broad group of technologies designed to work together to produce BI solutions. The stack often includes three layers: a database on the bottom layer (e.g., SQL, Oracle, spreadsheet, OLAP, unstructured data), a middle layer offering analytics technology (including predictive analysis, data mining and KPI formulation) and a presentation layer on the top (producing dashboards, scorecards, reports, etc.)
In Dundas Dashboard, “check in” saves changes made to a dashboard, while “check out” retrieves a dashboard for modification. Furthermore, “undo checkout” will discard any changes, saved or otherwise, that were made to the dashboard while it was checked out.
comma-separated values (CSV)
A file format that consist of fields separated by commas and rows separated by new lines. CSV files are a common format used in many applications, including Microsoft Excel.
In Dundas Dashboard, a contextual metric is another type of measure value that allows for meaningful comparisons with your KPI. An example of a contextual metric is a sales goal value for the current year, which is displayed as a horizontal line on a year-to-date sales chart.
See comma-separated values.
In OLAP, an extension to the two-dimensional array of a spreadsheet or relational database, optimized to quickly answer multi-dimensional analytical queries.
DashBlocks are dashboard fragments that can be combined to form personalized dashboard views called mashups. You design DashBlocks in much the same way as you design dashboards, except that DashBlocks are usually smaller in size than a typical dashboard, and often contain just a single data visualization.
dashboard (or digital dashboard)
A business tool that displays a set of performance indicators, KPIs and any other relevant information to a user in a visual manner. There are many different types of dashboards with different goals (operational, tactical, strategic), but ultimately, their role is to provide information at a glance.
The Dashboard Designer is a key part of the Dundas Dashboard framework where data visualization components are introduced into the dashboard-creation process. Visually, the Dashboard Designer resembles a blank canvas with data controls (charts, gauges, labels, etc.) and KPIs that can be dragged onto the canvas in a straightforward and simple manner.
Dashboard templates let you define a common theme or base from which to design new dashboards. Dashboard templates can contain any general controls and let you configure any of their properties.
DashFlow is Dundas’s streamlined development process. It was created to save dashboard developers time by allowing them to build dashboards without connecting to actual data. The process includes Dundas Dashboard’s unique KPI stubbing feature, which facilitates a parallel-track development process, so DBAs and BI professionals who design dashboards can concurrently work on dashboard projects or proof-of-concept dashboards.
A visual indicator that can be automatically generated for each of your KPI’s data points.
See data schema.
Used for fast retrieval, a data cache is generally data (that does not change frequently) stored on disk or in memory.
A data connector encapsulates all of the information necessary to connect to and query a specific instance of a physical data source. The information may include the name of a database server, the type of data provider to use and the credentials required for access.
The bottom level of technology infrastructure commonly known as the “business intelligence stack.” The data layer is where corporate data is stored, usually existing in a variety of databases such as Microsoft SQL Server 2005/2008, Access, Oracle or in flat files. The analytics layer and presentation layer sit atop the data layer.
data schema (database schema)
A database structure that defines data relationships, tables, fields, functions and many other elements.
A collection of data, usually organized in tabular form.
A resource of formatted digital data (e.g., data files), usually in the form of a database or data stream.
A method of organizing and storing data. Dundas Dashboard recognizes tables, virtual tables, views and procedures.
A set of values and their operations. Dundas Dashboard recognizes a wide variety of data types, from simple decimal and string information to more complex SQL and Oracle data.
Data visualization is the visual representation of data, which (for dashboarding purposes) is represented by charts, gauges, maps, grids, state indicators, etc.
A data warehouse is used to electronically store data. They are generally designed to let an organization provide reports and analysis on various topics including but not limited to: forecasting, budgeting, and resource efficiency.
See time dimension.
A dimension is a collection of categories which can be used to group, filter, sort and label KPIs. To allow for both detailed and general data views (i.e., drilling down and drilling up), these categories are typically arranged in a hierarchy of dimension levels. For example, with Dundas Dashboard, you can define a dimension that has a single hierarchy with three levels: product category, product subcategory and product. Dundas Dashboard supports two types of dimensions: standard and time.
A script engine that lets developers make distinctive changes to data visualization components and handle UI component interaction (like the dashboard designer’s text entry field and drop-down menu controls) at runtime.
A type of data relationship used to combine two or more data structures. A full join creates a new table by combining every row from both the “left” and “right” tables. Rows on either side that have no match are included in the new table with missing (null) values.
See user interface.
A type of data relationship used to combine two or more data structures. An inner join creates a new table by combining the column values of two tables when there is at least one match in both tables.
key performance indicator (KPI)
A significant metric or piece of data that measures business performance. KPIs differ depending of the nature of the organization and its strategy and goals; they can greatly influence the success and/or failure of an organization, department or project.
See key performance indicator.
Key performance indicator stubbing is a critical element of Dundas Dashboard’s DashFlow collaborative process. KPI stubbing allows business professionals to build KPIs without the requirement of connecting to actual data (random data is generated for them until real data is hooked up). This helps them to focus on “the bigger picture” of KPI creation while others worry about data-connection details.
A type of data relationship used to combine two or more data structures. A left join creates a new table by combining every row from the “left” table. If a row in the “left” table has no match, it is still included in the new table with missing (null) values for all the right columns.
In dashboarding, mashups relate to the “mashing together” of individual dashboard parts/elements (e.g., data visualizations). The advantages of mashups include the ability for dashboard viewers to create their own dashboards without having to rely on their IT dept. Some technical writers don’t like this word.
A measure is an element of a KPI that represents the numerical value that needs to be monitored, analyzed and managed. Examples are: sales revenue, operational expenses and units sold.
A named set is a MDX expression in SQL Server Analysis Services that returns a set of dimension members.
Online analytical processing (OLAP) is an element of business intelligence that deals with relational reporting and data mining. OLAP databases use multidimensional data models typically displayed in a matrix format (the dimensions form the matrix’s rows and columns and the measures form the values). OLAP lets you quickly perform ad-hoc queries even on large data sets.
An application programming interface (API) is an interface for extending and customizing a software application. Open means “public” or “accessible.” Dundas Dashboard’s APIs include: Data Provider API, Dashboard Control Plugin API, Navigation API, Export API and Authentication Provider API.
A performance dashboard displays a set of performance indicators, KPIs and any other relevant information to a user in a visual manner. There are many different types of dashboards with different goals (operational, tactical, strategic), but ultimately, their role is to provide information at a glance.
plug-in — See add-on.
The top level of technology infrastructure commonly known as the “business intelligence stack.” The presentation layer delivers visual information, mainly in the form of dashboards but also in the form of scorecards and reports. This layer sits atop the analytics layer, which sits atop the data layer.
project — In Dundas Dashboard, a collection of dashboards and their supporting data connectors, KPIs, dimensions, etc. Projects can be used to organize dashboards or control access.
See rich Internet applications.
rich internet application (RIA)
A web application that typically looks and functions like a desktop application, usually delivered via web-browser plug-ins or virtual machines.
A type of data relationship used to combine two or more data structures. A right join creates a new table by combining every row from the “right” table. If a row in the “right” table has no match, it is still included in the new table with missing (null) values for all the left columns.
Microsoft’s cross-browser and cross-platform browser plug-in that helps companies design, develop and deliver applications on the web.
A subset of a cube corresponding to a single value for one or more members of the dimensions not in the subset. For example, if your cube contains sales information, a slice might show you sales per day for one specific product.
One of Dundas Dashboard’s two types of dimensions (see “dimension”).
In a database management system (DBMS), a stored procedure is a subroutine that’s available to applications for accessing the database. Typical uses include data validation (integrated into the database), access-control mechanisms or in the case of Dundas Dashboard, data retrieval. All major database platforms support stored procedures, including SQL Server, MySQL and Oracle.
Style resources are saved properties from a dashboard control, which can then be imported into another control of the same type to give you a similarly styled control.
A special type of dimension, as Dundas Dashboard allows time dimensions to have more than one hierarchy. The levels for a time dimension hierarchy are well-known, being based on calendar standards such as Gregorian and ISO 8601.
See user experience.
See user interface.
See user management system.
See user experience.
user experience (UX or UE)
The experience a user has from using a service, product or a related feature — as per its designer.
user interface (UI)
The visual and auditory information presented to a user, usually via a computer monitor. The two most common UIs include (1) graphical user interfaces (GUIs), which offer graphical elements/icons on a desktop monitor and (2) web-based or web user interfaces (WUI), which are transmitted using the internet and viewed with a web browser.
user management system (UMS)
A system for managing users and personal profiles, often controlling access, authentication and security.
A uniform, multi-dimensional view of physical data.
A uniform, tabular view of physical data.
See user interface.
“What you see is what you get.” A term used in the software industry to describe a development tool in which content displayed during editing appears similar to the final output. In terms of Dundas Dashboard, the dashboard designer lets a user design a dashboard that, during the design process, will appear similar to what the end user would see.