Which software should I learn to make an online dashboard?

#1
At my work, I made an interactive dashboard in Excel, which I weekly use to generate graphs/reports. Generating and exporting the graphs cost me a lot of time (1 day a week). So for me, it would be a lot more efficient to have something like a secure web page in which users get their graphs automatically at any moment of time.

Since we have not many programmers at work and I probably have to make more reports in my career, I think it would be beneficial to learn how to make something like this myself. So I am thinking about learning software with which I can make something myself. I am not a programmer (I'm more into traditional market research and business analytics with using software like Excel and SPSS), but I am not afraid learning something new. The problem is, that there are so many tools and languages on the market, and I have no idea which one would be the best to learn. Does anybody have any suggestions? I read about R (and already followed a beginners tutorial, it looks promising), rCharts (not sure what that exactly is), Shiny, Julia (looks difficult to me), Javascript and dozens of libraries like d3.js (also looks difficult to me).
 
#2
I guess that the only suggestion you will get on this site is to use R.
(And I will get many thanks from many regulars for having written such a useful post, although that was the only and obvious suggestion for them. :) )

I don't know how to do such a "dashboard" but I searched for R and dashboard and found this blogg post.

Maybe someone would suggest to do a shiny app.
(Maybe there is a certain Canadian, and a regular visitor here, would be happy to do such a program for you! :) )

Of course there is another regular, who always disagrees with what the rest of us are in agreement about, who would recommend SAS. And I agree with him, it was a great suggestion - in 1980! :)

There is also a lot of help available in the R-section in this site ("Info for R-users" thread). If you think that that thread is a little bit old now, don't worry! I think I remember that one of the regulars have promised to modernize that thread. But maybe the raptors will wake up from their sedimentary stones, before that will happen! :)
 

bugman

Super Moderator
#3
As GG said R is a good idea, but Tableau is also good software for oing dashboard graphics. Have you read anything by Stpehen Few? He provides more examples.
 

spunky

Doesn't actually exist
#4
R & shiny apps. you wont' need to look any further than that.

and yes, i did thank you Greta (and bugman as well!)
 
#5
Thanks for the great suggestions :)

R looks interesting, especially with Shiny. But I am a bit confused with all the software: why are so many people using Javascript if R would be such a good option. I suppose R & Shiny are easier for non-programmers and more suitable for data analists.

I will read a bit through the R-users thread. The blog post is interesting, although I miss the interactivity (selecting of time frames, e.g.). But I will check the code in more detail.

Tableau would be a good option, if it wasn't so expensive. I don't like SAS, so that's already out of the question, sorry. ;) I haven't read anything by Stephen Few. What book do you mean?
 

bryangoodrich

Probably A Mammal
#6
It depends on your skillset and what you intend to do. Tableau has online services that they can host your dashboards for you (limited content on their free version), and this is probably the easiest approach. If you want to use Shiny, you'll need something to host it, but from an analytics perspective, it's a nice bridge from those that are doing analysis to those that want to serve them up in a web app. If you're an actual developer, then you're probably going to get more into the nuts and bolts with JavaScript. Node.js is a huge thing these days because you can do everything in JS; it's no longer just a client-side scripting language. Of course, you can use R code in your Tableau dashboards to help with what processing is being done, and you can build in some custom stuff into Shiny, but it's all a matter of control. If you're not a web developer, you'll want a more point-and-click solution. Otherwise, you'll probably want to use web technologies directly.

What is the workflow you would want to build your web apps in? A lot of us around here are R users so we're familiar with the R technologies for going this route: Shiny. If you want to build more general online dashboarding skills, I'd say you would be better off picking up JavaScript since you could use your skills in any stack (how will the data get to the dashboard, what engine will drive the visualizations, what engine will drive the user interaction, etc.?).
 
#7
I currently work with Excel and a bit with SPSS and STATA. Our developers work partly with JavaScript, but I think that's a bridge too far for me. I guess that JavaScript would cost me more time than learning R & Shiny. And the advantage is of course that I can also use R for custom statical analysis. Tableau would probably a better (read: easier) option, so I will investigate that further.