Creating small multiples

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1. Overview

Small multiples (also called trellis charts) produce a series of some visualization displaying the same data but with one variable changed each time. They can arrange the series horizontally, vertically, or in a matrix, and allow you to easily compare multiple sets of data that wouldn't fit well in a single visualization.

A small multiple is another type of 'view' in Dundas BI, in addition to dashboards, reports, etc. You can view small multiples on their own or drag one onto another view to combine it with other content.

Creating a new small multiple view
Creating a new small multiple view

2. Choose a hierarchy to repeat by

Every small multiple repeats content for each value of some hierarchy, similar to reports and scorecards.

After creating a new small multiple from the main menu, you can drop a hierarchy or a column of categorical data (e.g., Department) from the Explore window onto either of the two drop zones that appear.

Drop data to create a horizontal or vertical series
Drop data to create a horizontal or vertical series

Drop data to repeat columns on the left to arrange visualizations horizontally, or rows on the top to arrange them vertically.

Data label added
Data label added

A data label is added automatically that will identify the hierarchy value in each cell. You can change or re-position this label.

3. Add a visualization

Add your main visualization to repeat as a series by choosing one from Data Visualization in the toolbar. To allow Dundas BI to visualize for you as you add data based on its recommendations, choose Smart.

Bar chart added
Bar chart added

Tip
If you already have a visualization you want repeated in a series, go to the Explore window and find the metric set or the visualization under a dashboard and drag it onto the canvas.

This visualization can contain as much data and details as you need it to, and it will be reproduced in a series for each value of the hierarchy you chose to repeat by. You can also add any other components or visualizations that you like, and re-arrange the contents of the cell.

Click View in the toolbar at any time to see the rows or columns produced by your data, and the visualization you set up repeated in series.

A horizontal series with wrapping
A horizontal series with wrapping

When data is added only along rows or only along columns, the series of visualizations will wrap onto additional columns or rows once the available space is filled to avoid the need to scroll to see the entire series.

4. Displaying a crosstab

You can also drop data onto both drop zones, to produce a matrix with a row for each value of one hierarchy and a column for each value of another.

Repeating both horizontally and vertically
Repeating both horizontally and vertically

When grouping the small multiples into both rows and columns, the rows and columns will not wrap and will instead extend to fit however many values are currently selected from your data. One or both scrollbars may appear if all of the columns or rows do not fit.

Scrollbars may appear when viewing
Scrollbars may appear when viewing

You can use headers to label each row and column only once along the outside of the small multiple series. See the section below about headers for details.

Example of a crosstab with outer headers
Example of a crosstab with outer headers

If your crosstab consists vertically of a row for each value of a hierarchy, and horizontally a series of visualizations for different measures (or vice versa), you only need to repeat your small multiples by the hierarchy. When editing, you can set up a row or column of visualizations for each measure, and then repeat it vertically or horizontally.

5. Sorting and filtering

To sort and filter the rows and/or columns of your small multiple series when editing, open its Data Analysis Panel by clicking the cube and magnifying glass icon on the editor, then click the sort & filter icon for a measure or hierarchy.

Sorting and filtering when editing
Sorting and filtering when editing

For example, small multiples are often more readable when sorted by a measure.

You can also filter when viewing by adding filters to the parameter bar that is accessible from the toolbar, similar to reports and scorecards. To add a filter to the parameter bar, choose Filter in the toolbar when editing, and choose a filter type.

Adding filters to the parameter bar
Adding filters to the parameter bar

The Parameters window will open to show the new filter's connections, with some connections already selected. Review or change these selections, then click View and then Change Filters in the toolbar to try the filter.

Click Change Filters to open the parameter bar
Click Change Filters to open the parameter bar

You can also sort and filter when viewing by adding a Header control to a header or corner area. See the next section below for details.

6. Headers and footers

You can add content displayed along the outer edges of the series of visualizations, in areas called headers, footers, and corners.

To set up headers and footers, click an empty area of the editor if necessary to de-select an element, then switch to Advanced Mode in the toolbar.

Click Advanced Mode to use headers, footers, and corners
Click Advanced Mode to use headers, footers, and corners

A header, footer, or corner can be a good place to add a legend to be used as a reference for your small multiple series. Row headers and row footers are displayed once per row, and column headers and column footers once per column.

Setting up a header control and a legend
Setting up a header control and a legend

You may want to add a Header control, found in the Data Visualization toolbar, which can allow you to sort and filter the rows or columns when viewing. Set its Analysis Element property to your hierarchy in the Properties window to connect it.

When displaying a 'crosstab' with your small multiple series grouped into both rows and columns, you can label each row along the left by dragging or adding the corresponding data label into the row header cell, and each column along the top by doing the same into the column header cell.

Headers and a label added to a corner
Headers and a label added to a corner

Each 'corner' area is displayed only once, above or below the row headers and before or after the column headers. These areas make the most sense, for example, to add a Header for each series grouping hierarchy when displaying a crosstab.

Another use for headers and footers is explained below, for displaying axes with labels only along the outer edges.

7. Resizing and customizing cells

A cell will automatically expand in size to fit your content when you resize or re-position it.

For more control over the size of the canvas used to produce a small multiple series or any of its headers, footers, or corners, choose Resize Cells in the toolbar when there is nothing selected in the editor. If something is selected, first click an empty area of the editor.

Resizing small multiple cells
Resizing small multiple cells

This toggles blue draggable resize borders with each size labeled in pixels along the edges. If you are in advanced mode, you can resize each of the widths and heights between the various regions at once.

When finished, click Resize Cells in the toolbar again to return to normal editing.

You can also open the Properties window when there is no cell or element selected to set up a background or font that takes effect for the entire view, including all headers, footers, and corner areas.

If you click to select a cell, in the Properties window you can also set its width and height in pixels in the Layout tab, or set up a background for that cell in the Look tab. (If the cell is difficult to click on, select something in the cell and choose Select Template Cell in the toolbar.)

Template cell size properties
Template cell size properties

For the main (or 'body') cell that contains your visualization, you can also set up a background palette for alternating colors, or separator lines between each visualization, similar to reports and scorecards.

8. Chart and gauge axes

8.1. Sharing axis scales

Charts are a common visualization to use in small multiples, and they support reproducing the same range of values along each chart axis to ensure meaningful comparisons between each chart in the series.

In small multiples, all chart axes share their ranges of values by default. You can enable or disable this behavior for chart axes or gauge scales using their Share Scale With Copies property. You can find more details in the article Share axis scales in a scorecard.

8.2. Labeling only along the edges

When all the axes or scales label the same values, showing the labels in every chart or gauge can be redundant. If you prefer, you can label a scale only along the outer edges of the series to reduce the amount of text and the potential distractions when viewing.

Left axis shown only once
Left axis shown only once

To do this, first switch to Advanced Mode in the toolbar to make headers and footers available.

Click to select a header or footer, such as the row header cell, then choose Data Visualization in the toolbar and under Recommended select Axis to insert it. Resize the control if more vertical space is needed.

Resizing and connecting a left axis
Resizing and connecting a left axis

In the toolbar, click Connect Axis. In the Properties window that opens to the shared scale properties, choose the axis or scale from the dropdown that should be replaced by this axis in the header.

The outer axis will update to display the values of the chart or gauge. Ensure their positions and sizes line up, and the axis will align itself with the data points so that the labels and tick marks correspond correctly. You can use the red, dashed guidelines that appear when dragging or resizing.

Guidelines appear to align controls
Guidelines appear to align controls

If the axis is displaying categorical data, the hierarchy member keys will initially be displayed. The axis will need a copy of this data in order to display its captions, which you can drag to add after opening the Data Analysis Panel for the axis from the toolbar.

Left and bottom axes labeled only at edges
Left and bottom axes labeled only at edges

9. See also

Dundas Data Visualization, Inc.
500-250 Ferrand Drive
Toronto, ON, Canada
M3C 3G8

North America: 1.800.463.1492
International: 1.416.467.5100

Dundas Support Hours: 7am-6pm, ET, Mon-Fri