Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bar Charts In Views Revisited

I find it interesting that the simple posts around here generate the most interest from the community. This just goes to show that people are continually trying to find those subtle ways to improve the UI of their Lotus Notes client based applications. Either that or we're all lazy! :-D

Since I posted my little tip about Bar Charts in views using color columns, several folks have added some great comments and even shown their own implementations. Rather than rehash their content here, I'll just point you their way. Please check them out since there are some really super ideas that you can use in place of (or to enhance) my contribution.

First up is Theo Heselmans' implementation using image resources. He made some very attractive graphics to highlight his technique. If you don't mind firing up the graphics program and want to perhaps add a little bling to your application, then this is an excellent approach.

Vitor Pereira then picked up the torch and added his take on Theo's technique. This one blew me away because I learned something new. Turns out you can have more than one image in a single column in a view by specifying the column value as a list of image resources. How cool is that!

(P.S. This works with a list of column icon numbers as well. 1:2:3:4:5 will thus yield )

To round it all out, Mr. Kevin Pettitt provides us with a very nice summary of the whole affair.

Neither my technique nor the others mentioned here provide a 100% fool-proof solution for the perfectionist, but they all can greatly enhance the visual appearance of your views where some kind of progress indicator is needed. Try them out and see which one you like the best.

Thanks to Theo, Vitor and Kevin for the posts! Cheers, guys...

Update: Christian Petters shares his thoughts as well.

Update 2: Doh! Nathan smacked me upside the head in the comments and rightly noted that these aren't really Gantt charts but simple bar charts. Gantt charts are used in project planning and help you spatially see relationships and dependencies among tasks ( project manager training is flashing before my eyes). Thus, I have updated the title of this post. Thanks, Nathan...may I have another! :-D


Nathan T. Freeman said...

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, old chum... but you realize that none of these are actually Gantt Charts, right? They're all just bar graphs.

A Gantt Chart does relative offsets for timelines, like in a project plan. It's not about percentages. It's about dependency relationships rendered as a graph.

So I've been thinking of how one might accomplish THAT. :-)

Kevin Pettitt said...

@Nathan, yeah, yeah, I thought "Gantt" was a little too strong as well, BUT the technique could still be used effectively in a view showing a week or month's worth of data. Each document, let's say a "task" for simplicity's sake, has a start and end date. As long as one or the other falls inside the week/month currently being shown (as defined by a dynamic view/folder selection of some sort - separate problem), you could then color the columns for each row according to those dates (and even change the overall bar color depending on things like task type or priority, or even "my tasks" if you really want to get fancy). Then you would have what I think is a "real" Gantt chart.

Now let's see how long it takes for someone to build it ;-)

Chris Blatnick said...

@Kevin...I am NOT going to try that! I'll let someone else who is a glutton for punishment give that a go! :-D I don't know why, but it seems like too much work. hehe...

Vitor Pereira said...

@Nathan - Point taken about the Gantt name. Now, would you care to tell us how you do it. ;-)

Vitor Pereira said...

@Chris - Who are all these people on my blog? :-)

Warren Elsmore said...

Well, picky-people ;-)- gantt charts are possible....

They just take a VERY long time to do! (this is from our internal pipeline system)

Chris said...

Back to Gantt charts... I attended a Lotusphere 07 session on views (think it was AD408 IBM Lotus Notes 8 Views, Extensibility and Programming Model). The presenter took his in-box and - natively in the Notes client - displayed a pie chart of where his email had come from.

This blew me away! What he did made me realize you can use Eclipse to extend the Notes client to add Gantt charts - something potentially with a huge impact.

If you look at tools like Microsoft Project - they are great for planning, but fall down on the collaboration side. Notes apps can be great for collaboration, but can't display Gantt charts. With R8 we might find we can get it all!

Chris Doig