As someone who has been using Spotfire for over 5 years as both a Consultant and as an Analytics Architect, I have to say that I got a bit of a shock on opening TIBCO Spotfire X, the latest manifestation of TIBCO Spotfire.


 

Spotfire X... ”The Good... The Bad... and The Ugly!”

Gone is the classic Toolbar of actions and Visualization types that we have grown accustomed to across the top of the screen (and which I still prefer!).  Instead the screen looks very different and took a while to get used to.

There have been several major changes to Spotfire and I’ve been finding that reaction to these changes has been somewhat mixed.  

This is largely because if you are an experienced Spotfire User who can add and modify visualizations quickly, and instinctively, then you are going to have to re-learn how some major activities are performed in Spotfire X and change the way we work with Spotfire. 

So, let’s have a look at the most obvious changes. . .

  1. The User Interface and the Initial appearance has almost completely changed!

    There are changes to the Menus, the appearance and the addition of a brand new “Authoring Bar “, that appears and persists on the left-edge of the screen. 
    While it looks simpler and less complicated to the uninitiated, the Bad News is that the Toolbar of Visualization types, Reset Filters and other action icons. . . is GONE! 
    Instead, the Menus have been greatly re-organized and if you want to select a specific Visualization using the mouse, you now need to click on the little Blue Bar-Chart Icon, (the 3rd Icon down), in the Authoring Bar on the Left Edge of the screen, which then will display a Panel of Large graphical Icons (Scrollable), from which you now click on the Visualization Type that you wish to insert.  
    We found that when displaying the selection of available visualization, the panel displayed covered almost half the screen, obscuring much of what we were working on and causing distraction from our flow of thoughts.
    For new Spotfire Users, this is probably fine, but most of the experienced users that I have spoke to find that it takes more steps and is less fluid to add new visualizations. 
    In addition, while there are a few icons on the top right of the screen, they do NOT include “Reset ALL Filters” which was sorely missed by at least 2 users!
  2. The Data Panel is now accessed by clicking on the 2nd Icon in the Authoring Bar, but it has now been enhanced to include the Recommendation Engine and now suggests Data Relationships, as well as useful Visualizations. Takes a while to get used to and still trying to figure it out. This should improve over time.

  3. And now. . . The Data Canvas!!!

    This is basically an enhanced, and beefed-up version of the Data panel/Source View from earlier versions but the ability to edit transformations, replace Data Sources easily and just simply handle and grasp the Data integration of sources and tables in one, elegant and very user-friendly workflow view - is turning out to be a real winner! This seems to be most people’s favourite feature and mine! Most common request? Can we PLEASE have an enhancement to export this Graphical view to another tool (e.g. PowerPoint, Visio, etc.?) – it is a superb document view but is currently only displayable from within Spotfire.

  4. Near-Real-Time Visualizations using TIBCO Spotfire DataStreams
    Spotfire X now boasts a brand-new feature to be able to display and use Visualizations that will change or update in near real-time! This sounds great but be aware that this currently only works with data fed from the TIBCO Data Streams Product and a knowledge of this product and TIBCO LiveView and TIBCO Streaming Data seems to be essential to make this work.
  5. New FIND or SEARCH facility!
    According to TIBCO this new facility (located on the new Toolbar in the upper right corner), represents the use of a “Natural Language Interface” to enable queries to be entered in a free-form, more intuitive manner!
    This includes the ability to mark data (to a limited extent) but does not yet apply to filtering.
    I found it somewhat erratic and unpredictable in terms of what it would often return as useful data but considering that this is the very first public version with this feature, it shows promise.

APPENDIX A – Main Features of Spotfire X (to cover in Training)

Topics:

Main Changes:

  1. User Interface has almost completely changed
  2. The changes to the Recommendations engine - integrated into the Data Panel
  3. Using the new SEARCH functionality (as a Natural Language Interface)
  4. The use of the Data Canvas
  5. Visual Analytics for Real-Time Data using TIBCO Data Streams

The User Interface:

  • Changes to the Menus, appearance and the Authoring bar
  • Using the FIND or SEARCH BAR. Data Tools Consolidated into One Menu
  • Using the Recommendations Engine
  • Using the Data Panel

Data Tables and Data Wrangling:

  • Using Data Connections. Summary View for Data Wrangling
  • Using the Data Canvas – for Data Workflow and to Add or Modify Transformations
  • Adding New tables, Rows and Columns. Use of Recommendations. Replace Table.

Using Visualizations:

  • Building Visualizations via the new SEARCH Bar. MARKING Values using the SEARCH Bar
  • Visualization recommendations using AI/machine learning to find relationships in the data.

Exporting:

  • From within a Visualization, exporting to PowerPoint and to PDF

Calculations:

  • Using Preferred Aggregation Methods. Add Calculated Columns using the SEARCH Bar

Maps:

  • Marking using Search. Able to set Default Layers for Map Charts. Increased number of labels
  • Geocoding Updated to add 160,000 new cities worldwide.
  • Additional Admin Areas for USA.
  • Can now Change Co-ordinate Reference System in Business Author

Administration:

  • Apache Drill Support. Dremio Support. New Connector List.
  • Use of TIBCO Data Streams for near-Real Time analytics
  • Scheduling Automation Services Jobs. The TERR Service
  • Improved Scheduled Update Job Handling
  • Node Manager Performance Monitoring
  • New Commands for Server and Administration
 

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