Limitations: Misunderstood

Limits can be subject to mathematic calculations, sequence, function, time, space, speed, weight, age, scientific, engineering, legal, technical, language, emotional…

Some limitations are subject to personal or technical capability, such as earning potential or hard drive space.  Over time, however, these limits have the potential to increase, and for different reasons!  Most limits related to technology evolve over time and increase at a staggering rate.  Remember the early hard drives and RAM specifications?  Year over year it made sense to develop new technology to sustain the growth for faster and larger computers.

Some limits don’t need to increase over time.  For example, since being a teenager, I continue to buy cars with higher maximum speed limits.  But the roads I drive on continue to post the same speed limit.  Therefore, my car has a different maximum speed limit compared to the roads where I drive (contrary to my desire to drive faster).  I also have a desire to limit my weight gain, which doesn’t need to increase over time.

I think it is important to understand there are different types of limits.  When I think about limits, I realize that some can change and some cannot, or should not.  It takes some research and understanding to learn about limits before a conclusion can be developed.

There are endless types of limitations.  My goal is to discuss a specifically defined limitation within an iDashboards chart.  It is really more of a helpful visual aide and not a limitation.  Regular charts within iDashboards have a 1,000 row limit, and pivot charts have a 3,000 row limit.  There, I said it.  Phew.  During the development of iDashboards, we have purposely defined these limitations.  Let me further explain the limitation.  An iDashboards chart will query your data source (Excel, SQL, database, other…) and collect a result set.  The chart has a row limitation on the result set, not the data source.  iDashboards does not have a limit on how much data can be queried in your data source.

For example, imagine you have data with 1-million rows.  During the chart creation process, you set up the query to obtain ‘The total sales for all products’.  Because you have 4 products, your result set will return 4-rows.  If you have 103 products then your result set will return 103-rows.  Essentially, we are trying to summarize the information to make it digestible and capable of being presented through graphs and charts.  Therefore, using filters, functions (SUM, AVG, etc.), input parameters, drilldowns or pivots, allows you to specify the exact amount of data.

Because iDashboards is a data visualization technology, we offer visually engaging ways to display a result set.  With iDashboards, each row of the result set is displayed as a column, point, pie-slice, indicator color, image, etc.  Visually speaking, you shouldn’t want to display more than 1,000 rows of data in a chart.  Don’t you agree?  Without a row limitation, there is too much data and the visual purpose becomes unusable.  Most computer screens have a maximum width between 1400-1920 pixels.  Having a Column Chart with more than 1000 columns makes it nearly impossible to distinguish the graphic since each column would be 1x pixel wide.

Here are some references for learning about how to reduce the data in your chart:

If you’re still not convinced a row limitation is useful, here are some pictures.  So, what does 1,000 data points look like within a chart?

A Column Chart with 1,000 columns (aka ‘1,000 rows of data’)

 

A Bar Chart with 1,000 bars (aka ‘1,000 rows of data’)

 

A Scatter Plot Chart with 1,000 points (aka ‘1,000 rows of data’)

 

A Metrics Chart with 1,000 indicators (aka ‘1,000 rows of data’)

 

A Pie Chart with only 70 slices (aka ‘70 rows of data’)

 

Ken Rose – Product Marketing Leader, iDashboards

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