Business Intelligence Tools

Part 6 – Visualization Properties

This is the sixth and final part of a series on Spotfire Properties.  In previous posts, I discussed Document PropertiesData Table PropertiesColumn PropertiesData Connection Properties, and Data Function Properties.  This week, we’ll take a look at Visualization Properties properties.

Visualization Properties

To begin, each and every Spotfire visualization has it’s own visualization properties dialog controlling what is possible.  Basically, if it’s not in visualization properties, it can’t be done.  I am sure you have noticed, the dialog changes with each visualization based on the content and functionality of the vis.  In the course of this post, I will explain which ones are common across all visualizations and provide a few “pro” tips.

Common Visualization Properties

When writing this blog post, I decided to create a matrix showing which submenus appear in each visualization properties dialog.  This seemed like a good idea when I started.  Halfway through the assembly, I started to question my motives and the utility of such a matrix.  In the end, the result surprised me. You can download the DXP with this matrix, and I have posted a screenshot below.

Visualization Properties Summary

As it turns, out only three menus are common across all visualization properties — General, Appearance, and Fonts.   After these menus, Data, Legend,  and Show/Hide Items are the most common.

Most Common Visualization Properties Menus


Pro Tips

Next, I promised a few pro tips.

  • First, if you ever wonder what’s possible in a given visualization, consult this matrix.  For example, if you want to put Labels on a visualization but don’t see a way to do that, check to see if there is a Labels menu.  If you don’t see a Labels menu, you can’t put Labels on the visualization.
  • Second, always check the Appearance menu for your visualizations, especially if they are new to you or you have gone thru an upgrade.  The Appearance menu usually contains little gems for beautifying visualizations.  I have seen several new options appear there in the last few upgrades.
  • Third, don’t perform formatting in the Formatting menu.  Instead, format in Column Properties or Tools –> Options.  Formatting via this menu is generally the most inefficient way to apply formatting, unless you have one off needs.
  • Fourth, if you aren’t familiar with these menus, I highly recommend checking them out.  They are very useful.  I have a blog post on using the Line Connection, and I’ll update with posts on Error Bars and Show Hide soon.
    • Line Connection —
    • Error Bars — Error bars are used to indicate the estimated error in a measurement or the uncertainty in a value. Bar charts and line charts can display vertical errors, as indicated in the matrix.
    • Show/Hide — Allows you to restring content.  For example, if you have a bar chart with wells on the X-Axis and production on the Y-Axis, you can ask Spotfire to show only the top 10 producers.  Similarly, you could ask Spotfire to hide the bottom 10 producers.
  • Lastly, the same is true for fonts.  Don’t use the Fonts menu.  Go through Themes.

Additional Settings

In conclusion, I want to point out that a few visualizations also contain Settings menus.  Settings menus are used when the vis has individual, configurable components.  For example, the maps menu also contains a Setting menu for each Layer.  Graphical Tables contain Settings menus for each element in the graphical table.  A summary of such visualizations appears below.

  • Maps — Layer Settings
  • KPI Tiles — KPI Settings
  • Graphical Tables — Icon/Bullet Graph/Sparkline/Calculate Value Settings


In order to wrap up the series, I want to revisit the original questions I posed in the beginning.

  1. What do all of these properties menus do?
  2. Where can I go to change <insert preference here>? I keep setting <insert preference here> over and over again.  There must be a better or faster way.

The six-part series has addressed the first question.  The second question can be answered with this post on user preferences and administration manager preferences.  I hope you found the series useful.

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