Spotfire 7 is now generally available and we are very excited to try out the new features it has to offer. I must say that I was lucky to get to try out what’s new in Spotfire 7, at an early stage. There are some radical enhancements in the tool and the visualizations and text area looks sleeker and refined. Here I have highlighted some of the new features in the latest version of my favorite data visualization tool.
‘Recommended Visualizations’ Feature
This feature helps you visualize quicker/faster and is particularly helpful for users who are not always familiar with picking the right/appropriate visualization for their business scenario or analysis. This is the first option that you will come across when you import data. You just have to select what your measures and dimensions are and Spotfire 7 generates charts using the columns you select. You can then add them into your visualizations area by a single click and proceed with your analysis.
The data panel separates the columns from your data table into different data types like numbers, currency, time, categories and also location once you geocode using a column. The biggest advantage of this is that it allows you to easily pick your columns for the recommended visualizations. You can also filter your data, reset filters and know the number of filters affected on-the-go from the data panel itself.
Visual theme customization
This is one feature that was always on everyone’s wish list. You can now set color themes for your analysis. The customization capability doesn’t end with just changing background colors. You can extend color customization to visualization canvas, title bars, filters and other such details (Figure 1). You can also set the space between canvas margin and visualization which gives you more control over the canvas. To simplify things, Spotfire has two theme options and it automatically sets the intensity of the color based on the theme that you choose, Dark or Light. The best part is that all this can be accomplished with either click of a button and this has really made it easy for even users who are not comfortable using IronPython or HTML/CSS.
The text area offers much more control to the user than in the previous version. For example in the previous version, the formatting capability of the controls in the text area was limited. But with the new Spotfire 7, you can format the fonts and size of filters and property controls. Also the property controls like list box, drop down gets highlighted on mouse over.
Marking using legend
Yet another feature that they have added is the Marking using the legend. Previously, you could only mark a subset of the data by clicking on the visualization or chart. But now Spotfire allows you to do the same by just clicking on the legend.
Adding calculated columns to external data tables
This is, by far, the most important enhancement from data analysis perspective. As a data analyst, this enhancement from Spotfire gives you the flexibility to keep your data external and still leverage the Spotfire functions to manipulate the data. What’s more, these columns that are created can be reused within the analysis file, used as a filter and as controls. Since this column is stored in Spotfire in-memory, you can do pretty much anything with your data.
There are many more such interesting new features in the latest version. Keep watching this space for more updates.